Protesters blocked roads in Bihar's capital Patna and other places in the state today after opposition parties called a bandh over alleged "irregularities" in the Railway Recruitment Board exam. Several students' groups including the All-India Students Association, or AISA, have called the Bihar bandh.
A passenger train was set on fire and another was attacked with stones in Bihar in violent protests by students against the railway jobs exam on a day the country celebrated Republic Day.
The protests involved the Railway Recruitment Board's Non-Technical Popular Categories (RRB-NTPC) exam 2021. Students have opposed a decision by the railways to hold the exam in two stages, claiming that the second stage is unfair to those who have cleared the first stage, results for which were released on January 15.
Some 1.25 crore candidates had applied for the exams that had advertised over 35,000 posts from level 2 to level 6, with starting pay ranging from Rs 19,900 to Rs 35,400 per month. Around 60 lakh people appeared for the exam.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the opposition parties - Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, Communist Party of India, or CPI, and CPI (Marxist) - said, "Bihar has the most number of young people in the country and has the highest unemployment rate. Students are being cheated by the central as well as Bihar governments."
"It keeps promising jobs for them but when they come out on the streets demanding jobs, the Nitish Kumar government rains baton on them," they said.
AISA General Secretary and MLA Sandeep Saurav said a committee formed by the Railway Ministry to look into alleged irregularities in the exam is a "conspiracy" to postpone the matter till elections are over in Uttar Pradesh, news agency PTI reported.
Former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who heads the National Democratic Alliance constituent Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), has supported the protesting students.
"Police cases against teachers like Khan Sir could further provoke students for undeclared agitations in Bihar. The time has come for the governments to talk on unemployment and come-out with a solution," Mr Manjhi said.
Recently, Khan Sir, a teacher in Patna, had alleged that the Railway Ministry placed an additional exam burden on those who have already cleared their first examination. After this comment, a first information report was filed against him and 15 other teachers of coaching institutes in Patna for allegedly provoking students to protest.