Bihar: Protesters set train on fire over Railways exam
The protests against a Railways job exam turned violent in Bihar's Gaya after the protesters set ablaze four coaches of a train on Wednesday. No casualties or injuries have been reported as the train was empty at the time of the incident. The protesters also reportedly pelted stones at the police in Jehanabad and attempted to obstruct the movement of trains in Bhagalpur.
- The protests started on Monday over alleged anomalies in the Railway Recruitment Board's Non-Technical Popular Categories (RRB-NTPC) exam 2021. The exam is to be held in two stages.
- Politics is also raging over the protests, with several Opposition leaders extending support to the protesters.
- Following the unrest, the Ministry of Railways has decided to suspend the NTPC and Level 1 tests.
The RRB-NTPC computer-based test (CBT) results were announced on January 15 to shortlist candidates for the second stage of the exam. The aspirants are against the government's decision to have two stages, claiming that it is unfair to those who have cleared the first exam. The protesters have also alleged that the RRB notification issued in 2019 listed only one examination.
Due to the unrest, the government has suspended the exam and a committee has been formed to address the issues. "I request students not to take the law into their hands. We will seriously address the grievances and concerns raised by them," said Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw. "The committee will go to different parts of the country and listen to grievances," he said.
In Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj, protesters tried to stop a train, following which the UP Police allegedly launched a crackdown on them on Tuesday. Purported video recordings of police knocking down doors of rooms of students and assaulting them have emerged on social media, too. Subsequently, three policemen have been suspended and will face departmental action for "using unnecessary force," said Prayagraj SSP Ajay Kumar.
"The rioters who mingled with the students have been booked under 13 serious charges. Three have been named while around 1,000 are unidentified," Kumar said. Two persons have been arrested and are facing action, the official added. "One other accused who spread rumors on social media and incited students has been identified as Rajendra Sachan, he will be arrested soon," he said.
In Patna, an FIR has been lodged against Khan Sir, a well-known teacher and YouTuber, as well as other coaching centers for instigating violence and causing damage to government property. The FIR was filed based on testimonies made by rioting students who were detained in Patna. Following the allegations of inciting violence, Khan Sir, in a video, urged students to be peaceful.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have extended support to the aspirants and criticized the "repression" they are facing. "I am with you against the policies of the BJP government, on the side of truth, but violence is not our way," Rahul tweeted in Hindi. "If Independence can be taken through non-violent opposition then why not rights?" he added.
In response to the Opposition's attacks, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya termed the act "unfortunate." "The guilty policemen will face action. We appeal to students to be patient," he tweeted, adding that the Opposition should not get involved. "Those people who hid among students and indulged in rioting will face action after an investigation. Every student is our family," Maurya added.