Two Kashmiri Pandit government employees have filed a petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal against an order prohibiting their transfer from the Kashmir Valley, PTI reported.

The petitioners are among employees recruited under the prime minister’s rehabilitation package of 2008 who have been on strike for more than seven months. They have been demanding that they be posted outside the Kashmir Valley in view of targeted killings by militants.

In 2008, the Union government had rolled out a rehabilitation package for Kashmiri migrants who left the Valley in the 1990s after the rise of militancy. The package, among many things, envisaged giving 6,000 jobs to migrants and creating additional posts.

The petition before the Central Administrative Tribunal has been filed by two persons named Boopinder Bhat and Yogesh Pandita. The plea is likely to be heard after the tribunal resumes functioning on December 30.

The petitioners have challenged sub-rule 4 of rule 4 of the Jammu and Kashmir Kashmiri Migrants (Special Drive) Recruitment Rules, 2009. The provision states that if any employees recruited under the 2008 package migrate from the Valley again for any reason, they will lose the job without any notice.

Bhat and Pandita contended that the rule violates the employees’ right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, according to PTI.

“The targeted killings make it crystal clear that the respondents [Jammu and Kashmir administration] have failed to provide a secure environment to Kashmiri Pandit employees at their respective place of posting but the said rule is jeopardising the life and safety of the Kashmiri Pandit employees,” the petition said.

The petitioners have sought directions to stop the administration from taking adverse action against those who are not able to join work due to a threat to their lives.

The protests began after Rahul Bhat, a Kashmiri Pandit, was shot dead in his office in the Chadoora area of Budgam district on May 12.

On December 21, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha said that salaries would not be paid to Kashmiri Pandit employees unless they returned to work.

“We have cleared their salaries till August 31,” the lieutenant governor said. “But they cannot be paid salaries while they are sitting at home. This is a loud and clear message to them. They [Pandit employees] should listen and understand it.”

However, Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said that he would prefer that a dozen government offices be closed, rather than one person’s life being under threat