The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday banned its employees from criticising it on social media, or engaging in discussions where such criticism takes place. “No government employee through any post, tweet or otherwise discuss or criticise on social media any policy pursued or action taken by the government nor shall he in any manner participate in any such discussion or criticism that takes place on social media pages/communities or on micro blogs,” read the government’s order.

In the order amending the Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees Conduct Rules, the state government also said that employees “shall not use their personal social media accounts for any political activity or endorse the posts or tweets or blogs of any political figure.”

The order added that employees should not post grievances about their workplace. “No government employee shall post grievances pertaining to their workplace on social media in the form of videos, posts, tweets or blogs or any other form”, it said.

However, the Mehbooba Mufti-led government allowed its employees to defend its policies on social media platforms for the purpose of “removing misapprehensions, correcting mis-statements and refuting disloyal and seditious propaganda”.

The directive comes two months after the government suspended Ajaz Parray, an employee of Rural Development Department, for calling the Bharatiya Janata Party-People’s Democratic Party coalition a “failure”, The Indian Express reported.

But the president of Employees Joint Action Committee, the largest association of government employees in the state, opposed the order, calling it an attack on freedom of expression. “Everyone — whether a government employee or not — has a right to express himself, he has a right to raise voice against corruption, nepotism or failure of the government,” Abdul Qayoom Wani told The Indian Express. “After all, a government employee is part of the society.”

“There are about five lakh government employees in Jammu and Kashmir,” Wani added. “They are all well-educated. If they cannot put up their concerns, suggestions and grievances, who will do that?”