Widespread violence in Bihar resulted in the disruption of railway services across the state. A train was set on fire, many were injured in the violence and the Railways had to cancel its tests due to the protests. What triggered the violence? Who’s to blame? Read on to find out.
As the nation celebrated Republic Day on Wednesday thousands of students took to the streets of Bihar to protest against alleged irregularities in the Railway Recruitment Board procedure. On one hand, people were sharing never-seen-before footage of the Rafale cockpit from the Republic Day flypast, on the other, images of a burning train and police-student clashes were going viral.
WHAT IS THE RAILWAY RECRUITMENT BOARD?
Railway Recruitment Board is a government agency for the recruitment of candidates to Group C and Group D non-gazetted civil service and engineering posts in the Indian Railways under the Ministry of Railways.
WHAT TRIGGERED THE PROTESTS IN BIHAR?
The protests started after several students claimed that there were discrepancies in the RRB recruitment process. The anger of the students arises from the fact that the government decided to conduct two computer-based tests (CBT) for the RRB Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC).
The results for CBT-I of Group-D was released on January 14, shortlisting candidates for CBT-II.
The protesters claimed that this criterion for recruitment was not mentioned in the RRB notification in 2019. They said that the government had mentioned only one exam in the notification. They said it was unfair of the RRB to ask them to appear for another examination. They accused the officials of “playing with the future of the students”.
WHAT THE GOVERNMENT SAYS
The Ministry of Railways has refuted the allegations and said that the second stage of the examination (CBT-II) had been mentioned in the recruitment notice.
In a clarification issued the day after the results of CBT-I, the RRB said: “It is reiterated that the procedure for shortlisting of candidates for the second stage computer-based test (CBT) had already been given elaborately under Para 13 of the original notification i.e., CEN 01/2019 published on 28.02.2019).”
“While the first stage CBT was a common examination for all the candidates, Para 13.2 of the notification clearly states that in the 2nd stage CBT there would be a separate examination for each group (viz., Levels 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) with differing graded levels of difficulty. Accordingly, all posts falling within the same level shall have a common 2nd stage CBT. Therefore, if a candidate is eligible and has opted for more than one level (as per educational qualification), he/she will have to appear in the corresponding 2nd stage CBT for each level as given in Para 13.6 since the standard (difficulty level) for each group of posts will be different (i.e., of graduate or under-graduate level),” it added.
The board asserted that the question of depriving any deserving candidate of selection did not arise.
WHAT THE 2019 EXAM NOTIFICATION SAID
Section 3 of the original RRB notification from 2019 (CEN 01/2019) as uploaded on its website’s archives mentions the second stage of CBT under the ‘Examination Processes’.
Stages of Exam: There shall be two-stage Computer Based Test (CBT) followed by Skill Test (Computer based Aptitude Test for Station Master and Traffic Assistant, Typing Skill Test for Junior Clerk cum Typist, Junior Time Keeper, Accounts Clerk cum Typist, Senior Clerk cum Typist, Junior Account Assistant cum Typist and Senior Time Keeper). Subsequently, there will be document verification and medical examination.
For Trains Clerk, Commercial cum Ticket Clerk, Goods Guard, Senior Commercial cum Ticket Clerk, Commercial Apprentice, there shall be two stage CBT followed by document verification and medical examination.
Section 13.2 mentions: “The second stage Computer Based Test (CBT): Separate 2nd Stage CBT shall be taken for each of the 7th CPC Level i.e. Level 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 with graded difficulty level. All posts falling within the same level of 7th CPC shall have a common 2nd stage CBT.”ADVERTISEMENT
Protesting students blocked several railway stations in Bihar. Districts like Patna, Nawada, Muzaffarpur, Buxar, Sasaram, Sitamarhi, Arrah, and Bhojpur witnessed protesters squatting on railway tracks, disrupting train services across the state. Several trains in Bihar had to be cancelled or rescheduled. Protests were also reported in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
Police had to resort to lathi-charge and air-firing to disperse the protesters in many areas. According to some media reports, a few protesters were injured in firing in Madhubani
The protests grew even more violent on January 26 when the protesters torched the Rajgir-New Delhi Shramjeevi Express in Gaya.
In light of the protests, the Railways decided to suspend its Non Technical Popular Categories (NTPC) and Level 1 tests. It has also formed a committee to examine the grievances of those who have passed the exams under different RRBs and those who have failed.
Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw urged the protesting students to calm down and submit their demands formally. The Union minister has assured protestors that the matter will be examined fairly. “I request students that railway is your property, please do not destroy it. We will solve your problems. The results of the exams will be transparent and fair,” Ashwini Vaishnaw said.
The Ministry of Railways on Tuesday warned that those who would be found indulging in violence will be debarred from obtaining a job in the Railways.
YOUTUBER KHAN SIR BOOKED FOR INCITING VIOLENCE
Amid the protests, teacher and YouTuber Khan sir, who is massively popular across the country, has been booked on charges of inciting violence during a protest in Patna on Monday.’
Apart from Khan Sir, an FIR has been registered against a few other coaching centres and more than 400 unidentified persons. They have been accused of orchestrating violence and damaging government property at Rajendra Nagar railway terminal and Bhikna Pahadi on Tuesday evening.
The FIR has been registered based on statements given by agitating students who were detained on Monday and Tuesday in Patna. They purportedly said they were motivated to indulge in violence after a video, in which Khan Sir allegedly instigated students to agitate on the streets if the RRB NTPC exams were not cancelled, went viral on social media.
Soon after the protests broke out, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Every youth is free to raise voice for rights. Remind those who have forgotten that India is a democracy.”
In a subsequent tweet, he called for calm. ” I am and will be with you in favour of the truth against the policies of the BJP government. But violence is not our way,” he said.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, too, came out in support of the protesters. “The arrested students should be released. The order banning protesters from jobs [in Railways] should be withdrawn,” she tweeted.
After the FIR was registered against Khan sir, former Bihar Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha founder Jitan Ram Manjhi came out in his support. Manjhi said that if Khan sir is arrested, there could be even more violence.