RRB-NTPC Protests: Students’ union calls for Bihar bandh on Jan 28; threatens nationwide movement

Alleging injustice in allotment of seats to the qualifying candidates of the Railway Recruitment Board’s Non Technical Popular Categories (RRB-NTPC) Level 1 examination, students in Bihar continue to protest despite assurances by the Indian Railways officials. The protesting aspirants have called for a general strike in Bihar tomorrow, on January 28. Here’s what the issue is all about.

Lovely Kumari
| Updated: January 27th, 2022

Patna (Bihar)

After three days of clashes with the police, several rounds of teargas shells, mid-night raids and incidents of vandalism, including setting trains on fire, the protesting railway job aspirants have now called for a general strike in Bihar on January 28 (tomorrow). 

Terming the Indian Railways’ announcement yesterday to form a committee to consider the grievances of the students as a fake assurance, the protesters have also warned of a nationwide student movement against the allegedly inefficient and delayed results of the Railway Recruitment Board’s Non Technical Popular Categories (RRB-NTPC) examination for government jobs. The recruitment process has been suspended due to the protests.

“This announcement of a committee to address our issues is a sham,” Dilip Kumar, president of the Rashtriya Chhatra Ekta Manch —  a Patna-based students’ union – told Gaon Connection. “It is just a political tactic to quell the protests till the assembly elections in the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh because an unimaginable number of youth population in that state is also miffed with delayed results of these exams,” he added. 

“The protests will continue,” asserted the students’ union president.

Also Read: Govt teachers, sanitation workers in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh strongly protest the new pension scheme

Yesterday, on January 26, the Railway Recruitment Board of the Indian Railways released a notification which mentioned that a committee has been formed to address the students’ concerns. 

“Candidates are given three weeks time upto February 16  to submit their concerns and committee after examining these concerns will submit its recommendations by March 4,” Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw stated in a media briefing yesterday.

“We are listening to the students. They should not destroy their own property… We have followed all processes according to the notice. We will handle the issue with sensitivity,” the Union Minister added.

But students say they will continue with their protests. 

“We have organised a strike in Bihar tomorrow and have also appealed to the student unions across the country to ensure a general strike in other states as well… the future of millions of students hangs in uncertainty,” said Dilip Kumar. 

Dilip Kumar

Also Read: ‘Rail roko andolan to continue in Punjab despite CM’s announcement for debt waiver’

RRB-NTPC Level 1 exam

The Indian Railways had received about 12.5 million applications for 35,281 vacancies, of which 705,446 candidates were shortlisted.

The recruitment drive is aimed at filling the vacancies for posts like junior clerk, train assistant, guard, time-keeper as well as station master.

These vacancies were announced in 2019 and the exams were to be held in September 2019, but were postponed to March 2020 but by then, the COVID19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown began in India and then these examinations were further postponed. 

Eventually,  Computer Based Test-1 (CTBT-1) was held in 68 days in a total of 133 shifts with two shifts each day between the months of April and July 2020. The results for CBT-1 were declared two weeks ago, on January 14, 2022.

Stonepelting, arson, tear gas and night raids at hostels

The violent protests by the students had started off in Patna’s Rajendra Nagar Railway Station on January 24 and soon boiled over to other districts such as Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Buxar, Chhapra, Nawada, Sitamarhi, Arrah as well as Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh. 

Thousands of students in these districts blocked the railway tracks and vandalised public property which resulted in police action with several students getting booked under the relevant sections of the law. Police also resorted to firing tear gas shells to disperse the crowd of protesters on the railway tracks in Patna while shots were fired in the air by the police in Sitamarhi.

In Gaya, four wagons of a stationery train [Bhabhua-Patna InterCity Express] were set ablaze yesterday on Republic Day while blocking of the railway tracks disrupted rail traffic movement in the affected districts. 

In Patna University, police allegedly raided the boys’ hostel after the protests and almost 400 students were injured in the police action.

“They broke their room’s gate and beat them one by one. More than 400-500 students were injured in this raid,” Saswat Kumar,  a student told Gaon Connection.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tesjashwi Yadav criticised the Bihar Police for using brute force on the students. “No matter whether it’s a victim, a respectable person or a student. This government has only one response to anybody protesting and this is by beating them with a cane. Nitish ji (Chief Minister Nitish Kumar) is himself a product of student politics. Has he forgotten students’ power?” Yadav stated on Twitter.

Similar raid was allegedly conducted in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj district after thousands of protesters pelted stones on the police personnel deployed at the Prayag Railway station.

Also Read: Amid rising Omicron cases, India’s unemployment rate four-month high

“We had received input that the protesters are planning to set train engines on fire. Some anti-social element amongst the protesters began stonepelting on the police at the Prayag railway station. The police chased the protesters away from the station and searched the students’ lodge and arrested two accused,”Ajay Kumar Singh, assistant superintendent of police, Prayagraj told reporters on January 25.

“Also, a video has surfaced in which some police personnel are seen using indiscriminate force on the protesters and three such personnel have been suspended and a department inquiry has been ordered against them. But we have also booked three protesters and two of them are arrested,” he added.

What do the students demand?

The protesting students allege that the basis of selecting shortlisted candidates of the RRB-NTPC examinations is contradictory to the earlier claim of the Railway Recruitment Board. 

“Before conducting the exams, railways had said that the number of qualifying candidates shortlisted for the next round would be 20 times the number of vacant posts,” Gopal, a student of Patna University told Gaon Connection on the condition of anonymity.


“Although they are saying that more than seven lakh (700,000) applications were shortlisted, the actual number of candidates is actually around 3.84 lakh (384,000), as the same person may have been shortlisted for more than one post. It is unfair to other aspirants,” he added. 

Protests gather political support

Meanwhile, the protests in  Bihar are gaining political momentum. RJD, the principal opposition party in the state, has blamed the situation on the central government’s alleged inability in providing employment to the youth.

“The students have no option but to protest. The ruling government at the Centre had lied about providing two crore jobs in the country and 19 lakh (1,900,000) jobs to the youth in Bihar. The government is insensitive to the students. If the government is deaf in listening to the students’ problems, what else can the students do other than protesting,” the official Twitter handle of the party posted on January 24. 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi  has also extended support to the students protesting against the anomalies in the examination result.

“Youth, you are the hope of this country. In siding with the truth, I stand with you but violence is not our way. When non-violence could be used to get independence for this country then why not use it for defending your rights,” Gandhi posted on Twitter.