New Delhi: A wave of discontent is reverberating among aspiring candidates eagerly awaiting recruitment in the Indian Railways. Following the recent unrest in Patna over railway recruitment, a similar scene unfolded in Jaipur. The Indian Railway Recruitment Board's official notification for 2024 has opened applications for 5,696 assistant loco pilot positions.
On January 31, approximately 400 students gathered outside the North-Western Railway Headquarters in Jaipur, echoing the demands from Patna, calling for an increase in the number of vacancies. However, even before the demonstration could commence, the police intervened, forcibly dispersing the protesters and detaining many. The frustration and protests signal a broader dissatisfaction among aspiring railway employees across different regions, raising concerns about the selection processes and the number of available positions.
The protesters explained after 2018 when the appointments were made it's only this year that a new batch of vacancies has been announced. Despite years of anticipation, they said, only around 5,600 vacant posts were announced.
In the previous sessions of Parliament, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had stated that the railway has over 3.5 lakh vacant posts.
Raman Meena, a protesting student who spoke to The Mooknayak soon after getting released from the police custody, questioned, “Why did the government announce so smaller number of vacancies and that too after wait of six years?”
Their frustration stems from the stark contrast between the number of seats announced and the Railway Board's acknowledgment of over 20,000 vacant positions.
The agitating students suspect that the railway is orchestrating a deliberate move towards privatization, thus limiting the number of vacancies available for recruitment.
“It’s perhaps an attempt to privatize the Railway; and therefore, the Railway has issued notification of 5,696 posts of assistant loco pilot after a gap of six years. It is Thousands of us have been waiting for a good number of vacancies this time, but the Railway disappointed us. It is a betrayal to youths seeking jobs,” said Arvind, another aspirant.
He urged the government to compile a comprehensive list of all posts that have been lying vacant for the past six years and promptly initiate the recruitment process without unnecessary delay.
He said they are not scared of police actions; and a series of protests will be held on February 2 across Jaipur, Kolkata and Patna.
Hundreds of aspirants took to the streets and staged a protest in Patna on January 30, raising the same issue.
Akash Verma, a law student and a leader of the Sanyukt Yuva Morcha, took to X (formally Twitter), posting, “By lathi-charging students, the government has shown it cowardice. The railway minister provides a meagre of 5.5 thousand vacancies, lie and approach the peaceful protestors with violence. How is this okay? Before 2019 Lok Sabha elections, minister Piyush Goyal had promised 3 lakh jobs to the citizens. Where are the jobs? The students are constantly being played with.”
This incident followed a series of protests in Patna the previous day, addressing similar concerns. Protests over railway recruitment erupted in Patna, Bihar, with students expressing anger towards the Railway Recruitment Board's selection process for Loco Pilots. On Tuesday, 30th January, students marched in a rally from Bhikhana Hill to Kargil Chowk in the capital city of Patna to voice their discontent. They claim that the recently announced railway vacancies are inadequate after a prolonged period of vacancy scarcity. The students are demanding an increase in the number of available positions. Amidst the protests, police resorted to lathi charges to disperse the demonstrators.
The simmering unrest erupted into violence at Patna's Kargil Chowk, where police resorted to harsh measures like lathi charges to disperse the protesting students. Unfortunately, this heavy-handed response resulted in injuries to several demonstrators, further escalating tensions in the region. These candidates, who had long awaited the opportunity for railway employment, now find themselves disillusioned and disheartened by the inadequate number of available seats.