Students Bring Mumbai Railways To Halt For 3 Hrs Over Joblessness; Call Off Protest After Assurance
March 20th, 2018
Students protesting over railway recruitment in Mumbai on March 19 called off their protests after more than three hours of flash agitation as the government assured them of meeting their demands.
The “rail roko” agitation was staged on the railway tracks between Matunga and Dadar on the Central Railway (CR). The movement of the trains on rush hours was blocked and police even resorted to Lathi Charge. The protesting students pelted stones in retaliation.
The whole protest which lasted for three hours brought the lifeline of the city to an absolute halt, affecting many commuters.
Reason for the protest
The protests were carried out by the activists of the All India Act Apprentice Association (AAAAA). The body was demanding the scrapping of the 20% quota for the direct recruitment for the candidates who have cleared the All India Railway Act Apprentice Exams.
Before 2016, the railways selected and appointed apprentices for various technical jobs. These apprentices would then were given preference during recruitment. However, in 2016, the Railway Ministry decided to offer just 20% quota. Many apprentices were unable to secure jobs and hence this protest was organised.
In a bid to bring the situation under control, the police resorted to mild lathi charge and the students pelted stones in retaliation. Reportedly, five persons and a few police personnel were injured in the scuffle.
5 Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel and 6 Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel injured in stone pelting during the agitation of railway job aspirants in #Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/0Xu1wzsSjC
— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
With the strike by the drivers of app-based taxis on Monday, more than 4.5 million commuters had to face problems for the second consecutive day. Commuters also complained that they were not informed of when the services would resume.
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) asked the managers of the nearby BEST depots to run extra buses to assist commuters in reaching their destination on time. Extra BEST buses plied to and fro from various points like Dadar, Matunga, Kurla, Sion and other stations.
Protest called off after Piyush Goyal assured students
Regarding this issue, CR spokesperson said that the apprenticeship was just to provide training to the apprentices for a specific period, to help them hone their skills and give them experiences and that under the Apprentice Act, there was no provision of giving jobs to the apprentices. In an official statement, the CR spokesperson said, “However, the Ministry of Railways has taken a decision and reserved 20% of the seats filled through direct recruitment. The notification is already issued with the last date of submitting application on 31 March. Apprentices can apply against this notification and Special Examination will shortly be held for apprentices who have done training in Railway Workshops under the Apprentices Act.”
The protesting students called off the strike after Railway Minister Piyush Goyal gave assurance. Goyal told ANI, ”Recruitment in Railways is underway at a large scale. On directives of the Supreme Court, Indian Railways has made a recruitment policy that is unbiased and transparent.”
Maharashtra CM, Devendra Fadnavis told ANI, “Was in continuous touch with officials. No rules have changed, 20 per cent seats are reserved for apprentices but they are demanding more. Lathi-charge was done after agitators started pelting stones, no one was injured.”
Rahul Shewale, a Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai met top CR officials to resolve the issue. Post meeting, he said that the railways would hire more than 12,400 eligible candidates.