MP: Patwari Recruitment Delayed, Candidates Resort to Digital Protest
Image Courtesy: Twitter/@PriyamSonakiya
New Delhi: The patwari (village accountant) exam created a major controversy in Madhya Pradesh when the results revealed that seven out of the top 10 scorers were from the NRI College in Gwalior, owned by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Sanjeev Kushwaha. This happened after the exams were held in April 2023, and the results were declared in June 2023. The controversy came out in July 2023 after the toppers list was declared.
State Congress members alleged widespread rigging, but State Home Minister Narottam Mishra countered, "There were 115 candidates at the centre; why are questions raised only about the top seven?" He further accused the opposition Congress party of “fuelling” unnecessary propaganda.
A patwari is a village accountant who deals with revenue matters and matters of land measuring up to 20 miles as a government officer. Among other roles, the role of a patwari becomes immensely important in land revenue collection for a state.
This particular recruitment announcement for patwaris was made in 2022. The exams were conducted in April 2023 by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Exam Board (MPPEB) for approximately 9,000 posts in Groups 2, 3, and 4, for which around 10,00,000 students had appeared. The eligibility for candidates taking the exam is graduation and within the age of 18-40 years. Out of the total 9,000 posts, the ones for patwari in the joint exam were 6,755.
After on-ground protests, the candidates have now started posting on X (formerly Twitter) with an empty bowl in one hand and books in the other. Videos are also posted in which candidates say, “One bowl, one book, a call to protest against the Shivraj government who seem totally against the youth. The book we hold in our hands symbolises how we have been putting in all the effort to study for various exams, preparing wholeheartedly to land a government job. Still, the government is creating hurdles for us instead of jobs."
In another video, a candidate can be heard saying, “While we leave no stone unturned in studying, the government does the same as they failed to stop discrepancies in all the exams taken."
Furthermore, even before the exam could take place, several candidates have posted how they faced issues with their documents. One Neetesh from Bhopal said he had to wait in queue for a long time for his biometric registration. When he finally made it to the spot, his thumbprint was not shown to be not applicable. The authorities then tried different methods, but the problem was with the Aadhaar website, the server of which was continuously down.
"Their infrastructure was weak. If the biometric checker is not working, it is the authority's fault. How am I to be blamed? All the years I prepared went in vain," wrote Neetesh. He said he was not the only one in that centre who faced this problem. There were four other candidates there as well. However, nothing was taken into consideration.
It was later found by this group of candidates that, across the state, many candidates had faced this issue and were not able to take their exams. “Firstly, the toppers are from a certain centre, then the recruitment process is kept on hold even for the selected candidates, and apart from this, there are candidates who were not even allowed to answer the exam despite no fault of theirs," posted Arunoday Parmar, state president of Yuva Halla Bol, a youth movement that is leading the protest for the patwari exam flaws.
The candidates had staged on-ground protests with empty bowls in their hands, symbolising how the government was compelling them to beg on the streets while they were duly qualified for the job, the vacancy for which had come after years. However, this led to the students being detained and later asked to stop the protest. Some applicants also allege that the police threatened to file a case against them if they did not put their protest on hold.
The protestors' demand is that although the government has put the appointment process on hold and ordered a probe into the matter, the appointment process should not be stopped. It should continue parallelly with the investigation, at least for those candidates who were nowhere involved in any mischief. "An affidavit should be taken from all the newly appointed candidates in which there is a provision of consent to face due action in case they are found guilty," said Parmar.
As the candidates take to social media, they have been uploading pictures memes, and using all the other digital tools to pressure the government. As the Assembly elections come closer, the hopes of these candidates to join keeps fading.
As per point 13(3) of the rule book of Group 2, Sub-group 4 and Patwari Recruitment Exam, considering the provision to complete appointments within 90 days of publication of the results, the entire recruitment process should be over by the end of September 2023. However, considering the current status, that looks unlikely.
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