Patna: The Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government’s decision to announce those participating in protests ineligible for government jobs has been slammed by job aspiring youths, students and their parents alike.
The latest directive, which includes not only protests but participating in any dharnas or road blockades as criteria for ineligibility for government jobs, has come as a shocker for everyone in the state. This directive comes 10 days after the state government had announced its decision to take action against any ministers or government employees for alleged offensive and defamatory social media posts criticising the government.
Bihar Director General of Police, S K Singhal on Tuesday (February 2) issued the circular that warned people against taking part in any protest, dharna and road blockade if they want government jobs or any kind of government contracts. “If a person is involved in any criminal act by engaging in any law and order situation, protests, blocking road etc. and is charged by the police for this, then specific mention of this will be made in the character verification report by the police,” the circular stated.
Police verification is a mandatory requirement for a government job, a license for a firearm, passport and others.
“Nitish Kumar has so far failed to provide us government jobs despite huge vacancies and now the government has threatened us not to take part in protests demanding jobs and seeking justice. We will oppose it because it is against our basic rights provided by the Constitution,” said Rohit Kumar, a youth who is seeking job as a teacher in government schools in Patna.
Rohit’s voice was echoed by Santosh Kumar Rai, another aspirant for teaching position, who said, “Where is it written in the Constitution that a citizen of the country will not be provided government jobs if he is found involved in protest or dharna? This move is dictatorial and unacceptable to us.”
Similarly, Manjit Kumar Singh and Md Saif, both preparing for Bihar government and central government jobs, said that these directives go against the democratic principles of the country and they need to be challenged.
Thousands of youth in the state, who are seeking employment as teachers after passing the Bihar Teachers Eligibility Test (BTET) and Central TET (CTET), have been agitating since the last one month. They also faced lathicharge by the police, in which several were injured, as they were demanding the completion of the process of selection of teachers and issuing of appointment letters to the qualified candidates.
Also read: Bihar: Government to Provide Only Contractual Jobs, Youth Left Disappointed
According to them, the state government had advertised in 2019 for recruitment of 94,000 primary teachers in government schools. The process was earlier delayed as the matter was pending in court. But in December 2020, the Patna High Court directed the government for resumption of the recruitment process. However, no progress has been made in the recruitment process so far.
As per the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s estimates, for the past 20 months – since February 2019 – the unemployment rate in Bihar has been more than 10%. It is one of the longest cycles of unemployment that the state has ever seen. Additionally, around 21 lakh migrant workers returned to Bihar during April and May following the lockdown imposed to contain COVID-19. Most of the migrant workers lost their jobs and even their wages due to the sudden announcement.
Soon after the Bihar Police issued this circular, Opposition leader in the state, Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal took to Twitter, comparing Nitish Kumar to dictators like Mussolini and Hitler.
Responding to the government’s dictatorial announcement, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Arun Kumar Mishra said this circular is anti-people and anti-democratic. “How can a government decide to deny a job to a citizen on the basis of his or her using their right to protest. The NDA government at the Centre and in the state are afraid of protests against its anti-people policies and this circular is an attempt to suppress the people’s demands.”
Congress MLA Shakil Ahmad Khan too slammed the decision saying that, while the NDA government at the Centre is doing everything to silent the protesting farmers in Delhi, the one in Bihar is declaring one after another restriction to not criticise or question its obviously wrong policies. He further added, “It is not acceptable, we will protest against any such move. Youths, especially job aspirants, have every right to express their disappointment with the government.”
Students’ organisations of Left parties, including the All India Students’ Federation, Students’ Federation of India and All India Students’ Association; the National Students’ Union of India and the Chhatra Rashtriya Janata Dal have also criticised the circular and demanded the government to immediately withdraw it or be ready to face the consequences.
It should be noted that more than two and a half months after the NDA government came to power, joblessness remains a big issue among youths and no special announcement for recruitment to existing vacancies have been made so far. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, an ally of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), had promised to provide 19 lakh jobs in the next five years during the election campaign of state Assembly polls during October-November but to no effect.