January 27, 2022
By Saurabh Sharma
LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) – Thousands of youngsters in India have burned down empty train coaches and blocked rail traffic this week in protest against what they call irregularities in recruitment by the mammoth railways department, one of the world’s largest employers.
Student associations have called for more protests this week mainly in the eastern state of Bihar, which has been reporting one of the highest jobless rates in the country. India’s unemployment is estimated to have exceeded the global rate in five of the last six years.
The violence erupted on Monday after test results for different job categories showed that the names of the same people appeared multiple times, which unsuccessful candidates felt wrongly excluded them. Millions of people had applied for some 150,000 jobs in Bihar and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state, they said.
“The recruitment process has not been transparent,” said Ashutosh Singh, one of the protesters in Bihar, where coaches of a stationary train were set on fire on Wednesday in the district of Gaya. “A number of the selected candidates had their names in various categories, which is very unfair.”
The Ministry of Railways said on Wednesday a committee had been formed to look into the concerns of the candidates. It earlier said those found involved in the vandalism and destruction of public property could be barred from appearing for railways jobs apart from other legal action.
India’s railways employs more than 1.2 million people.
In Bihar’s capital Patna, authorities have registered police complaints against some 400 unnamed people and six institutes involved in coaching students for railways and other jobs, senior official Chandrashekhar Singh told Reuters by phone.
In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state where local elections start next month, authorities suspended six police personnel for using “excessive force” against protesters in the city of Prayagraj. Three civilians had also been arrested, senior police officer Ajay Kumar said by phone.
(Writing by by Saurabh Sharma and Krishna N. Das)