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Bihar Bandh: What Triggered the Violent Student Protests Over RRB-NTPC in Bihar?

Explainer | What Triggered the Violent Student Protests Over RRB-NTPC in Bihar?

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Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

Youths across different districts of Bihar have damaged railway properties to register their protest over Railway Recruitment Board's recruitment process for Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC).

Railway services in the region took a hit when thousands of protesters blocked trains. Their agitation took a violent turn when bogies of trains were set on fire and railway tracks were damaged. Police had to resort to firing tear gas shells to control the angry candidates.

Why have these protests turned violent? Here's the chronology of RRB-NTPC protest—

On 28 February 2019, RRD released over 35,000 vacancies. The vacancies saw a massive application of 1.25 crore candidates.

After a delay in the exams due to COVID and other logistical reasons, the results for Computer-Based Test (CBT) I were released on 14 January 2022.

But the students alleged discrepancies in the recruitment process

Allegations Of The Candidates:
Students claimed irregularity in the shortlisting criteria, level-wise and post-wise. They also accused that, instead of issuing 20-times more candidates with respect to the vacancies, in CBT-II, RRB issued 20-times more roll numbers. They also have reservations over cut-off marks and over RRB's decision to have same recruitment process for 10+2 candidates and graduate candidates. They are also angered by the further delay that will be caused by all of this.
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After the initial complaints of the candidates on January 14, railways issued a clarification on 15 January, but the candidates were not satisfied with it.

The candidates began a social media campaign with millions of tweets that trended their concerns over RRB-NTPC recruitments.

The following clarifications from the railways were also rejected by the students.

In the middle of all this, on 24 January, railways issued a fresh notification for the recruitment of one lakh vacancies in Group-D.

That new notification angered the candidates and the protest, that was limited to social media, had hit the streets. We didn't want to protest this way, but the railways forced us.
Neeraj Kumar, RRB-NTPC candidate

On January 25 and 26, the protest took a violent turn when the protesters resorted to damaging railway properties. Districts of Gaya, Jehanabad, Bhagalpur, Sasaram, Samastipur, Chhapra, Sitamarhi, Patna and Bhojpur saw angry agitators damaging properties of railways.

While the candidates were claiming that RRB has deviated from the original notification of 2019, the board said that the recruitment process is in compliance with that notification.

Protests had now reached Uttar Pradesh, where protesters were thrashed by the police.

On 26 January, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw addressed the media on the issue of RRB-NTPC.

I request all the candidates to formally submit your concerns. We will tackle them with sensitivity. Candidates can submit their concerns by 16 February, after which a committee will examine them and give their recommendations by 4 March.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Railway Minister

Meanwhile, police alleged that some coaching institutes were provoking applicants. Popular YouTuber Khan Sir, among others, were booked for inciting violence. 400 other unidentified persons were also booked for damaging government properties.

In support of the grieving candidates, students and youth organisations in the state have called for 'Bihar Bandh' on January 28.

Opposition leaders, including Congress' Rahul Gandhi, have extended their support to the protesters, but requested them to protest non-violently.

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