Srinagar: The students of Sher-i-Kashmir University for Agricultural Sciences, SKUAST-K have gone on an indefinite strike after the administration failed to create any job opportunity for Horticulture passouts for the last 14 years.
The University administration started the Horticulture Department in 2007 with promises of a bright future in the most vibrant sector of the economy of Jammu & Kashmir. However, the promises have fallen flat, as over 800 passouts continue to remain jobless till date.
Around 300 students including undergraduates, post-graduates, PhD students and post-doctorates have assembled at University gate to protest against the “apathy” of University administration towards their plight.
“We are in dire need of employment and authorities continue to turn a blind eye towards our situation,” one of the protesting students said, wishing anonymity.
The student pointed out that Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board (JKSSB) recently advertised some 345 posts under the Horticulture section.
“However, the eligibility criteria mentioned was faulty. They had given preference to Basic Horticulture Training (BHT) diploma holders over BSc Horticulture degree holders. It is only one year-long diploma course while BSc Horticulture is a four-year degree programme wherein a course work is done for three years and one-year internship programme,” she said.
The students said that the University has only given “false assurances in return of their genuine grievances.”
“The Department has 700 students on roll and is presently conducting a counselling session for 200 students. What is the need of taking new admissions when there will be no jobs in future?” a research scholar, who was a part of the protest said.
He said that it was better if the University would merge them back with the Agriculture Department.
“If at all, they don’t recognize our degrees, why don’t they merge us back with the agriculture department as there are ample job opportunities available there?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor SKAUST-Kashmir, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad told Free Press Kashmir that their grievances have already been conveyed to the higher ups.
“The students want some change in the eligibility requirements for some posts, and we have already taken the matter with the Divisional Administration, and it will be resolved soon,” Dr Mushtaq said.