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Rajasthan REET Protests: Brutal Crackdown by Police on Tribal Students

The protesting aspirants, who have been struggling to get the state government to conduct the exams since 2018, took to the National Highway-8 after the Chief Minister went back on his promise to meet them.
Crackdown by Rajasthan police on REET protest.

For nearly 20 days, tribal youths from Rajasthan have been staging protests atop the Kakri-Dungri hills between Bichhiwada and Kherwada, demanding recruitment for 1,167 vacant posts reserved for tribal. However, the state government’s delay in fulfilling its promises despite a sustained agitation and its apathy towards the ongoing protests forced the youths to block the National Highway-8 on September 23, following the cancellation of the meeting scheduled with MLAs.

Crackdown by Rajasthan police on REET protest.

In response, Rajasthan Police has unleashed a brutal crackdown on the protesting youth. Activists who were present at the protest said thatthe police tried to run their vehicles over the youth who were sitting down on the highway. Not only that, there have also been reports of police lathicharge on several aspirants leading to a counter attack, injuring many on both sides. 

Raj Kantibhai, a tribal activist from the state, told NewsClick, “The situation remains extremely volatile as aspirants feel let down by the government over and over again. It is a clear betrayal on the part of the government of tribal interests. The highway is currently being blocked, thousands have flocked in.”

Another activist added that the region is seething with anger over the attempts by the Bharatiya Janata Party to give away seats reserved for tribals and the apathy of the Congress administration. 

The tribal youth in Rajasthan have been protesting time and again, demanding a chance to compete for recruitment as a teacher in the state through the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET). Earlier in December last year, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced the conduct of the examination for teacher recruitment. Through the REET, the government had proposed to fill 31,000 vacancies, out of which 6,080 vacancies would be reserved for candidates coming under the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) regions spanning over three districts--Banswara, Dungarpur, and Pratapgarh.

Also read: Jobless Tribal Youth Continue Protest In Rajasthan against Delay in REET Exam

However, even after 10 months since the announcement, there have been no further announcements regarding the exam dates. Siyaram Meena Gangadiya, an activist present at the protest site, said, “The BJP wants to fill the seats with open category, however, this cannot be done as it is a tribal area with reserved seats.”

Talking about the ongoing protest, Rajkumar Rout, MLA of Dungarpur, told NewsClick, “The protests have been ongoing in key tribal districts of Dungarpur, Pratapgarh, even across Udaipur for two years now. After protesting for over 20 days in December 2019 an announcement was made to conduct the examination. The government had formed a committee in January this year to decide on the matter within three months, but it has been nine months since that decision.”

He added, “With the protests ongoing for close to 20 days, a meeting was scheduled to take place on September 24. But we were sent a letter on September 23, which said that the meeting was called off. This is the reason why students took to the streets, joined by many across the villages.”

“They think they can crackdown on the aspirants with violence, however, it will get worse with this approach,” he said.

*This is a developing story.

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