As the protest against the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB)’s Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC) competitive examination continued for the third consecutive day, the protesting candidates, on Wednesday (26 January), reportedly set on fire train compartments in Gaya, Bihar.
The agitators also allegedly pelted stones at the police in Jehanabad, and tried to obstruct the movement of trains in Bhagalpur and numerous other places.
Earlier on Tuesday (25 January), reports came that the protesting students had torched a train compartment at Ara, and also created ruckus in Patna, Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Buxar and in some parts of Uttar Pradesh as well.
Train set ablaze at Gaya Junction, FIR against coaching institutes
On Wednesday, thousands of protesting aspirants of Railway NTPC were reported to have gathered at Gaya Junction. The agitators damaged the railway track and torched a bogie of an empty train coming from the yard. Before the police could reach the spot, they set ablaze three more bogies one after another.
The police continued to push the protestors using mild force, but the violent protesters did not retreat. Following this, the RPF team fired tear gas shells to disperse the agitating mob. Movement at the Gaya DDU railway section remained halted for over six hours, and many trains were diverted, delayed and even cancelled.
“An FIR has been filed against six coaching institutes and 150 unidentified people. So far, we have arrested eight persons (including functionaries of some coaching institutes) in this regard,” informed Patna Superintendent of Police Manavjit Singh Dhillon.
As protests also continued in places across Patna, DM Chandrashekhar Singh told reporters, “We have identified some coaching institutions which are provoking students to protest. We are also keeping a tab on some other such coaching centers,” reports The Indian Express.
“The situation was just going out of our hands and spreading over to other parts of India. They were mobilising through Telegram, WhatsApp and other social media,” said a senior Railway official.
Railway announces a high-level committee
"All RRB 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," Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The Ministry of Railways, in view of the deteriorating law and order situation in Bihar, has decided to put its recruitment drive on hold. The Rail Ministry announced a high-level committee, headed by Deepak Peter Gabriel, principal executive director of industrial relations in the Ministry, to address the grievances of the students.
The candidates can lodge their concerns and suggestions to the committee at email@example.com, the railways has said. Candidates have been given three weeks' time, up to 16 February, to submit their concerns. The said committee will examine the concerns of the qualified as well as the failed candidates, and it will submit a detailed report with its recommendations to the Railway Ministry on 4 March.
Why are the RRB NTPC aspirants protesting?
The RRB has released the recruitment notification for 35,281 vacancies from level 2 to level 6- in various categories ranging from junior clerk, train assistant, guard, time-keeper to station master- with starting pay ranging from Rs 19,900 to Rs 35,400 per month for the NTPC (Non Technical Popular Category) posts in 2019. Out of these, 24,281 posts were for graduates, and 11,000 posts were for undergraduates (12th pass).
Initially, the examination was scheduled in March 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The examinations for the first round of these recruitments were then held between December 2020 and July 2021, the results of which were announced on 14 January 2022. A total of 1.25 crore candidates had appeared for the exam. The tier-2 examination for the same was scheduled on 15 February 2022, which has now been postponed till further notice.
The Railways has informed that a total of 7,05,446 candidates were 'shortlisted’ for the second tier of the RRB NTPC examination. Thus, the number of candidates who have qualified for the second round was 20 times of the vacant posts. However, the actual number of candidates is around 3.84 lakh, as the same person may have been shortlisted for more than one post.
As per this report, of the 7 lakh shortlisted “applications”, the two Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) from Uttar Pradesh (Prayagraj and Gorakhpur) account for 1,06,579; Bihar’s two RRBs (Patna and Muzaffarpur) for 27,373; and Rajasthan RRB (Ajmer) for 35,481.
Now the candidates alleged that those graduate students who have also qualified the examination in the undergraduate (12th pass) category have also been shortlisted for their posts as well. The protesting undergraduate candidates are of the view that this way, they will never be selected as the graduates are much more capable than them.
In this context, the Railways explained that this was done so that not even a single post remained vacant. Railways further clarified that the final results will be announced for the 35,281 vacancies only, and no candidate will be appointed to more than one post.
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