UP PET Exam: 4 Die in Separate Accidents; Aspirants, Parents Blame Govt ‘Mismanagement’
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Lucknow: At least four people, candidates and parents, died and several others sustained injuries in separate accidents across Uttar Pradesh on October15-16 during the Preliminary Eligibility Test (PET) 2022 of the Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Commission exam.
In the first accident, 25-year-old Surya Prakash, a resident of Badhin Purwa of Bayariya, which falls under Baundi police station who was on his way on a motorbike to appear in the PET examination, collided with a pickup van coming from the opposite direction on the Bahraich-Sitapur highway near Methaura village on Saturday. Prakash died on the spot, while his friend, Sanjay, 25, from Elhwa village of Bhinga police station in Shravasti district, was critically injured. The pickup dragged the motorcycle over a distance of 60 to 70 metres.
Om Prakash, the elder brother of the deceased, told NewsClick that his brother had for long been preparing for the competitive exams along with studies while staying in Bahraich with his friend. "My brother used to live in the city (Bahraich) away from the family just to prepare for the competition, but we never thought he would go so far away from us. His examination centre was more than a 100 kilometres away," he said.
Accusing the state government for not arranging buses or trains for students, Om Prakash said: "Had his exam centre been closer or had the government arranged for bus or train, he would have been among us today. Who will take moral responsibility for such deaths?"
In the second accident, Abhay Chaturvedi (21) resident of Belwa village of Samthar area in Jhansi district, who had gone to Auraiya, nearly 100 km, on Saturday along with his friend Bhupendra for the PET examination on a bike lost his life while returning. The mishap took place in the evening between Amra and Semri village of Moth police station area.
Chaturvedi reportedly lost balance after another bike coming from the opposite side hit them. Their bike crashed into a nearby divider and the duo got critically injured. They were taken to a community health centre in Moth and later referred to the medical college where Chaturvedi was declared brought dead. His friend is undergoing treatment.
In the third incident, a 25-year-old person was killed and four others were injured when a speeding truck rammed into their car on Sunday. All the car passengers were heading for the PET examination centre.
Local residents said the accident occurred in the evening when a car carrying six people was travelling toward Bareilly from Lakhimpur and Sitapur on the Puranpur highway before the Hardoi branch canal.
The Gajraula police reached the spot and took the injured to the district hospital, where Preeti Devi, a resident of Salarpur village under Hargaon police station of Sitapur district declared dead while four others are undergoing treatment.
On Sunday, of the 18.79 lakh candidates, 12.62 lakh candidates were present while 6.16 lakh skipped the exam. Around 34% candidates did not turn up in the first shift, and 33% were absent in the second shift. On Saturday, more than 6.29 lakh candidates (nearly 34%) skipped the PET-2022 written exam.
The examination was conducted in four shifts – two each on Saturday and Sunday — from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The PET is a qualifying paper to apply for Group-C level jobs conducted under Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Commission (UPSSSC).
Chaotic scenes were seen outside the railway and bus stations in the state capital, Gorakhpur, Prayagraj and Varanasi on both days, with aspirants rushing for the exam centres.
The Opposition parties attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government over the poor arrangements and for making unemployed youth suffer due to “mismanagement” by the state administration.
Many students missed their exam on the first day on Saturday due to a lack of public transportation.
In Lucknow, the Charbagh railway station and trains were overcrowded with candidates despite the Railways claiming to operate several special trains.
"There was no space to rest our feet inside the train. I had to stand inside the toilet and later was hanging onto the door, putting my life at risk,” Pradeep, a candidate who came from the interiors of Deoria to appear for the second shift of PET at a centre in Varanasi, told NewsClick, adding that it was a nightmare for him to travel 195 km while standing.
Parul and Kavita, both from Basti, said though they had reserved seats, they failed to board their train as candidates who captured the compartment, locked the door. "We have never seen such a crowd in our entire life.It was not safe to travel in the midst of a massive crowd but there was no option. However, we failed to board the train," they told NewsClick.
Later, the girls reached the examination centre in Lucknow by bus, standing for almost five hours with their parents.
Laxmi, daughter of Shiv Dayal (55), a farmer in Baidpura village of Saifai block in Etawah district, had to appear for the PET exam in Agra on Saturday. The duo had boarded the train from Baidpura railway station on Saturday morning to reach Etawah from where they had to catch another train to Agra. Dayal was standing at the door of the crowded coach and lost his balance after the train left from Baidpura station.He fell on the tracks and died on the spot.
"We couldn't have sent Laxmi to appear for the exam alone for more than a 100 km. Therefore, her father was going along with her. Had we known that such an accident would happen, we would not have sent her for the exam. Who is responsible for this loss? Laxmi, her father, the train or the government who did not arrange anything for students to reach the centre?" said Sanjay, Dayal’s nephew.
Many students from marginalised backgrounds in the state slogged throughout the year for this examination, which is considered the only gateway for them to lead a decent life. However, the aspirants and parents NewsClick spoke with questioned Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s priorities. They said he himself conducts aerial survey of the Kanwar Yatra every year and district administrations welcome ‘Kanwariyas’, showering them with flower petals from helicopters, but does not pay any heed to hapless students to know whether they live or die.
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