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Railway Exams Protest: Jobless Youths to Intensify Agitation in Bihar, Bandh on Jan 28

The leaders of the opposition Mahagathbandhan alliance, comprising the RJD, Congress and Left parties on Thursday extended support to the protesters.

Patna: Despite repeated police actions in the last four days, thousands of protesting railway job aspirants supported by different student bodies of opposition parties, mainly Left parties, are set to intensify their agitation. Left students’ and youth organisations have called for Bihar Bandh on Friday (January 28) in support of protesting railway job aspirants and against police action to suppress the ongoing protest.

After a long time, Bihar witnessed massive protests when thousands of jobless youths hit the streets from Monday to Wednesday against alleged irregularities in the results published by the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) for the Non-Technical Popular Categories examination and the decision to hold another exam for it.

The protests have spread across the state in view of the growing anger among youths and students over the failure of the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre and in the state to provide them with employment. Hundreds of jobless youths protested at different railway stations, including Rajendra Nagar Terminal in Patna, Gaya, Jehanabad, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Bihar Sharif, Bhagalpur, Sitamarhi, Nawada, Sasaram, Chapra, and Saharsa.

The protesters were shouting slogans against RRB, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, and the Narendra Modi-led government to express their anger and unhappiness over growing unemployment.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) MLA Manoj Manjil, who extended support to the protesters early this week, announced a day-long statewide shutdown (bandh) against irregularities in the result of the competitive railway examinations and police actions against protesters.

The leaders of the opposition Mahagathbandhan alliance, comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and Left parties, held a press meet in Patna on Thursday afternoon. They announced their support for protesting railway job aspirants and backed the strike call. "This is a movement of jobless youths and students, not of any political party. We stand in support of the demand of protesting jobless youths," RJD state president Jagdanand Singh said.

Communist Party of India state secretary Ram Naresh Pandey, Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary Avadesh Kumar, and CPI (M-L) state Secretary Kunal also extended support to the protesters.

Congress leader Rajesh Rathore said, "We will oppose police action against protesting railway job aspirants.

As protests turned violent at several places in the last four days, the state police and railway police fired several rounds in the air, tear gas shells, and resorted to lathi-charge at different places to disperse the protesting youths. Dozens of protesters were injured in the police crackdown, while few police officials were also injured in stone-pelting by protesters.

Meanwhile, Bihar police arrested eight protesters, including four each in Ara and Nawada districts, and sent them to jail. Besides, the police in Ara registered an FIR against 700 unidentified protesters, and in Nawada, an FIR against 500 unidentified protesters. Earlier in Patna, four protesters were arrested. The Patna police have filed a case against 500 unidentified protestors in connection with the agitation at the Rajendra Nagar Terminal. Later on Wednesday, the police started lathi-charge when the jobless youths staged a protest at Bhikhna Pahari locality in the state capital.

The state government also registered FIRs against half a dozen coaching teachers, including "Khan Sir", a popular Youtuber, on charges of instigating railway job aspirants to protest. Former Bihar CM and president of BJP's ally party Hindustani Awam Morcha, opposed the FIR against Khan Sir and warned that it would prove a big mistake if he were arrested. Manjhi demanded that the case against the teacher be withdrawn. Senior RJD leader Shivanand Tiwari also criticised the government for registering FIR against coaching teachers.

Initially, protests by a small group of jobless youths began on Monday afternoon at Rajendra Nagar Terminal in Patna and Ara railway station in Bhojpur. Soon, a large number of unemployed youths joined them at both places. The Rajendra Nagar Terminal was virtually under siege by angry protesters that disrupted train movement. Train services were disrupted for nine hours in Patna and six hours in Ara.

The protest was triggered by a fresh notification that the RRB issued to hold another exam for the jobs after the recent 'inaccurate' results. Upset over this, the job aspirants who had appeared for RRB's Non-Technical Popular Categories exam 2021 accused the body of cheating by holding two exams.

After that, on Tuesday, Bihar witnessed violent protests by railway job aspirants in Nalanda, Muzaffarpur, Nawada, Gaya, Saran, Samastipur, Buxar, Sitamarhi, Ara, Vaishali, and Patna. Protestors blocked a railway track at Ara railway and set a bogie of a passenger train on fire.

Amid the Republic Day celebration on Wednesday, thousands of jobless youths, few of them carrying national flags, blocked railway tracks in protest in Jehanabad, Ara, Gaya, and Samastipur districts. It disrupted trains services for hours. Many slogan-shouting protesters created ruckus at Gaya railway station and ransacked railway properties to register their protest against the RRB.

After the gathering of protestors increased, the police appealed to them to vacate the railway station's platform and end the blocking of tracks. But they refused to do so. After that, the police fired tear gas shells and resorted to lathi-charge; angry over this, the protesters pelted stones at the cops and set fire to a bogie of a standing express train at Gaya railway station on Wednesday afternoon. Later in the evening, protesters again set fire to two more bogies of another train at Gaya.

On Wednesday, hundreds of protesters blocked railway tracks at the Jehanabad railway station that disrupted the Gaya-Patna train route for hours. They also burned effigies of PM Narendra Modi and Union Railway Minister on the railway track itself.

Angry railway job aspirants protested at Samastipur railway station again on Wednesday. In Ara, protesters staged a protest for the third day.

At different places, protestors not only blocked railway tracks but roads as well.

In view of the Bihar Bandh, the state police headquarters have alerted all railway district police and deployed additional security forces at vulnerable places to control the situation.

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