As protests against the Railway Recruitment Board's (RRB) two-exam policy turned violent in Bihar, the Railway Ministry on Wednesday, 26 January, suspended the Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC) and Level 1 exams.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)
A passenger train was set on fire and another was attacked with stones on Wednesday, 26 January, as protests against the Railway Recruitment Board's (RRB) two-exam policy turned violent in Bihar. The Railway Ministry later suspended the Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC) and Level 1 exams.
Speaking to ANI on the students' protest, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said:
"Our intention is to resolve this issue quickly. A panel will examine representations by candidates. Chief Ministers are working sensitively, we're in touch with them. We urge candidates to put forth grievances formally," he added.
According to a notice issued by the ministry, a high-power committee has been formed to look into the concerns and doubts raised by the aspirants. The committee, according to the notice, will be headed by Deepak Peter, the Principal Executive Director (Industrial Relations) of the Railway Board.
The notice reads that candidates can lodge their grievances and suggestions with the committee at email@example.com within three weeks, till 16 February.
Protesting aspirants on Wednesday set a railway coach on fire in Bihar's Gaya. Speaking to news agency ANI, Senior Superintendent of Police of Gaya Aditya Kumar said that the "situation is under control" and that some protesters had been identified.
"Situation under control now. They have set it (coach/train) on fire, we have identified some of them," he said.
The latest notification by the Railway Ministry comes a day after thousands of protesting aspirants blockaded the Delhi-Kolkata line at Rajendra Nagar Terminal in Patna and Arrah on 24 January.
"Such misguided activities are the highest level of indiscipline, rendering such aspirants unsuitable for Railway/Government job. Videos of such activities will be examined…and candidates/aspirants found indulged in unlawful activities will be liable for police action as well as lifetime debarment from obtaining a railway job," read a notice issued by the Railway Ministry on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, students in Jehanabad town of Bihar burned an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raised anti-government slogans.
Meanwhile, in Prayagraj, the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested two people and lodged a case against nearly 1,000 unidentified persons for allegedly setting fire to a railway track.
Ajay Kumar, SSP Prayagraj, told ANI, "About 1000 anti-social elements disguising as students had gathered near Prayag station & allegedly set the railway track on fire."
On Tuesday, a video captured several policemen brutally thrashing unidentified persons with lathis. Reacting to the video, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had expressed solidarity with the protesting students.
"Violent attack by police on innocent students who raised their voice for their right to employment in Allahabad…shameful and deeply condemnable. The misbehaviour with the students in the BJP government will lead to the historic downfall of the BJP [sic]," the leader wrote on Twitter.
On Tuesday, agitating aspirants had stopped the passage of various trains, including Rajendra Nagar-New Delhi Tejas Rajdhani Express, Sampoorna Kranti Express, and South Bihar Express.
A large number of students had also assembled at the Fatuha railway station in Patna district and stopped a goods train.
Several sections of the East Central Railway (ECR) zone were affected by the protests, which hit more than 25 trains, causing inconvenience to passengers.
Aspirants of the railway exam have have intensified their protest over the past few days, claiming that the second stage of the selection amounted to "cheating" those aspirants who had cleared the first stage of the NTPC.
"There was only one examination mentioned in the RRB notification 2019. Now, the RRB has issued fresh notifications, where it has mentioned two examinations. Many of the selected candidates are disqualified in the second examination. This is complete cheating by the RRB. Its officials are playing with the futures of the students," reported IANS, quoting Andhir Sahay, a student protesting at Rajendra Nagar Terminal, Patna.
Around 1.25 crore candidates had applied for the exams that had advertised over 35,000 posts from level 2 to level 6. The pay range started from Rs 19,900 and went on to Rs 35,400 per month. Approximately 60 lakh students had appeared for the exam.
(With inputs from IANS, PTI, ANI, The Indian Express.)