By MD Ali
On the auspicious occasion of Republic Day, Railway Recruitment Board Non-Technical Popular Categories (RRBNTPC) applicants staged a protest, that somehow went violent, for the third consecutive day. On January 24, candidates started protesting against the Railway decision to hold exams in two stages. Alleging the discrepancies in the exam results, candidates blocked roads, squatted on Railway tracks on various protest sites.
Patna’s Rajendra Nagar Terminal had to suspend its services for a day as protesters reached on the station and gathered on the tracks. A passenger train was set on fire by a group of protesters on January 25. The violent protests did not stop even on the Republic Day as more few more trains reported attacked with stones and a passenger train was yet again set on fire on Gaya station.
Around 1.25 crore candidates had applied for over 35,000 posts. Around 60 lakh people appeared for the exam and those who had cleared the exam were expecting for the joining letters but were informed they have another round to clear to qualify for the job. The decision provoked the students and they started protesting from January 24 on several places like Patna, Nawada, Muzaffarpur, Sitamarghi, Bhojpur, Buxar, Jehanabad and Gaya.
In Jehanabad, Students burnt effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raised slogan against the center government. Speaking to a local news channel, a protester can be heard saying that this government only fears elections. We are the members of BJP but it doesn’t mean we should starve to death. It’s just not the state, the central government is also playing the same policy against students.
Protesters accused Modi government for playing with students’ future as only one examination was mentioned in RRB-NTPC notification issued in 2019. Students said the decision for another phase of test, is a cheating as they have cleared computer based (CBT) exam for which result was declared on January 15. On the other hand, the Railways Ministry, keeping their side clear, has clarified that the second stage exam was clearly mentioned in the notification at the time of advertisement.
When police used mild force to disperse crowd from the tracks, protests soon went berserk. The heavy deployments of police force seemed failed as protesting students damaged railway properties and multiple clashes between security forces and students were reported in poll bound Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
In response to the action, the government has suspended the exam and had set a high-level committee to address the grievances of the disgruntled candidates.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, minister for railways said “I request students not to take the law into their hands. We will seriously address the grievances and concerns raised by them. He added that all Railway Recruitment Board chairmen have been asked to listen to the concerns of students, compile them and send them to the committee.
“An email address has been set up for this purpose. The committee will go to different parts of the country and listen to grievances”, he furthered.
The Railways Ministry has also issued a statement saying that candidates who are involved in violent protest and damaging Railways property will be ‘debarred for life’ from jobs in the railways.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took to Tweeter to extend hi support to students’ demands, he wrote, “Students you are the hope of countery and your family. I am with you against BJP policies but violence is not the way. The freedom was taken by using non-violence, they why not your rights.”