Bihar: Jobless Youths Angry Over Government's Failure to Provide Jobs
Bihar Bandh in support of protesting jobless youths
Patna: ”Humlog job ke liye sadak pe hai kyunki hum berojgar hai. Ye hamare bhavishya ka issue hai. Hum iske liye ladenge (We are protesting because we are unemployed. This is about our future. We will fight for it," said Ratnesh Roshan, a protesting railway job aspirant in Patna.
His statement revealed anger, frustration and an anxious mindset as he protests against alleged irregularities in the results published by the Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) for the Non-Technical Popular Categories (NTPC) examination and the decision to hold another exam for Group D jobs.
Ignoring the bone-chilling cold, thousands of youths and supporters and workers of Left and other opposition parties took to the streets, protesting irregularities in RRB-NTPC results on Thursday. The shutdown badly affected normal life across the state. Trains services were badly disrupted as protesters halted trains at Patna, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Gaya, Supaul and other districts.
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.
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 and backed the strike call.
Even the allies of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP) supported the shutdown call.
During the Bihar Bandh, police arrested two Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation (CPI (ML)) MLAs, Mahboob Alam and Sandeep Saurav.
Roshan is one among thousands of protesters across Bihar, who have protested at railway stations, railway tracks and roads since early this week. This is the first such massive protest over the employment issue in the state in recent years.
Vivek Kumar Singh, another protester, said that they are fighting for government jobs to secure a stable future.
"We are demanding correction in unfair results by RRB and only one exam for Group D jobs to ensure government jobs to thousands of jobless youths. There is nothing wrong in it as it is our right," Singh said.
Both Roshan and Singh made it clear that they are protesting for jobs as they apprehend that unfair results of RRB-NTPC and the decision to hold a second exam for Group D would deprive them of likely government jobs.
During the last four days, protesters have loudly voiced their anger against RRB for cheating with them.
"I and thousands like me were hopeful of finding our name in RRB-NTPC recruitment exam results that were released in mid-January. But our names were not there despite hard labour and waiting for nearly three years. This was a result of cheating by RRB as it has manipulated the result. It shortlisted 3.84 lakh candidates in place of 7 lakh for Computer Based Test-2 (CBT-2) scheduled for mid-February. We expected shortlisting of candidates 20 times in the CBT-1 for the vacancy of 35,281 in various categories by RRB. This has angered all of us because it will ruin our chance to get government jobs," Roshan said.
About 1.25 crore candidates had applied for the RRB-NTPC examination in 2019. The CTBT-1 was conducted in 2020.
Roshan said recent notification by RRB to conduct the second exam for Group D recruitment vacancy has added fire to the flame as thousands of aspirants applied for both RRB-NTPC and Group D.
"Joblessness is rampant in the state, and unemployed youths are frustrated as they are getting older and may not be qualified for the exam in the future. They are under pressure to get a good job."
Similarly, Singh said the Railway ministry should announce correction immediately in RRB-NTPC results by adding more than 3 lakh candidates for CBT-2.
"RRB has played with our future by arguing that it has made a rule this time for each level and that the number of qualifying candidates it shortlists for CBT-2 will be 20 times the number of available posts vacant. The reality is that one candidate has qualified or been shortlisted for levels two, four and five, and another is shortlisted for all levels as per their high scores. Both candidates have been counted as shortlisted to fulfil the 20 times criteria."
After the protests spread across the state that badly hit train services for hours from Monday to Thursday, the Railway ministry announced that it has constituted a committee to look into the candidates' concerns over the NTPC CBT-1 result.
"Candidates are given three weeks up to February 16, 2022, to submit their concerns, and the committee, after examining these concerns, will submit their recommendations by March 4, 2022," an official statement read.
Sensing trouble after protesters refused to buy committee formula, a senior BJP leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister claimed that the Railway minister has assured him to consider the main demands of railway job aspirants.
But the student body All India Students' Association (AISA), which supported the protest, termed the committee formed by the ministry a "conspiracy" and a hoax to postpone the matter till the elections in Uttar Pradesh.
DM Diwakar, former director of AN Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna, said, "The protest by jobless youths is an expression of anger against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) central government that failed to provide jobs despite promises. It also exposed the ground reality of growing joblessness and declining job opportunities in government sectors. Youths are not happy to join private-sector jobs. Contrary to government claims, one can imagine how thousands of jobless youths are struggling for class three and four jobs for years."
Kanchan Bala, an activist who participated in a student movement led by Jai Prakash Narayan against emergency in the mid-1970s, said jobless youths are angry and unhappy over the government's failure to fulfil its promises to provide jobs.
"Ongoing protests by railway job aspirants reflect this as they have become hopeless to get government jobs. This will not end here because lakhs of jobless youths will take to the streets sooner or later. Unhappy jobless youths are a warning for the government to tackle joblessness issue seriously or be ready to face more protest not only in Bihar but countrywide."
She said the protest by jobless youths is also against the privatisation of different sectors by the government.
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.
As protests turned violent at several places in the last four days, the state police and railway police fired several rounds in the air, used 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 sustained injuries.
More than 14 months after the NDA government came to power in Bihar, joblessness remains a significant issue among the youth. No special announcement for recruitment to existing vacancies has been made so far.
The ruling BJP, 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 the Assembly polls but to no avail.
Last month's data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) revealed that the unemployment rate in Bihar rose to 16%.
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