J&K Grameen Bank manager sacked for ‘inciting’ colleagues against resuming duty in Valley

The management of the Jammu and Kashmir Grameen Bank on Monday terminated the services of one of its branch heads on charges of provoking non-local employees against resuming their duties in the Valley.

Identified as Satvinder Singh, Manager at the bank’s Chatha branch in Jammu, the terminated official also happened to be the general secretary of the J&K Grameen Bank Officers’ Association, a registered body with the Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) both at the Centre and in J&K. The decision to terminate him, according to official sources, was taken by the bank’s Board of Directors.

According to the show-cause notice issued to him, he had shared on a WhatsApp group a June 14 letter with comments that “non-local employees shall not be coerced to join duties in the absence of security measures in Kashmir’’.

Set up under provisions of the Government of India’s Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) Act-1976, the Central and the J&K governments have 50 per cent and 15 per cent equity, respectively, in J&K Grameen Bank, and as such have their nominees on its Board of Directors. The remaining 35 per cent equity in the bank’s capital is of its sponsored bank, which is Jammu and Kashmir Bank.

The management’s action led to protests by the bank staff, affecting normal functioning at all its 215 branches across the Union Territory on Tuesday. Holding demonstration outside the bank’s head office in Jammu, one of the association’s leaders said that their agitation will continue until the termination order is revoked. The Central Unions of the RRBs, too, have extended their support to the agitation and will hold a meeting on June 23 to decide on their future course of action.

Till Tuesday evening, the bank management was holding talks with the agitating employees who wanted immediate reinstatement of their association leader.

Following the killing of an Ellaquai Dehati Bank (EDB) manager, Vijay Kumar, in Kulgam on June 2, more than 100 non-local employees posted in 94 branches of the J&K Grameen Bank in Kashmir came to Jammu. Most of them hailed from Rajasthan and they approached the Bank Officers’ Association to take up with the management the issue of their security in Kashmir, they pointed out.

The Association leaders approached the Bank’s management raising the issue of security of non-local employees posted in the Valley, but the latter on June 13 issued a circular, asking all of them to resume duties by June 16.

Taking exception to the management’s decision, association president Gulshan Rana in a letter on June 14 asked it “not to coerce employees to work in conditions that can cost them their lives’’. Satvinder had shared this letter of the association on a WhatsApp group with a comment.

Describing Satvinder’s action as having the potential to encourage employees to rebel against the management and the government of India, the bank management on June 16 evening issued him show-cause notice, saking him to reply within two days as to why the “penalty of removal of service’’ shall not be imposed on him.

Satvinder, when contacted, said that as he was not well and advised rest by the doctors, and had approached the management to give him 15 days to reply to the notice. However, the management on Monday terminated his services.

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