UP Public Service Commission further complicates the situation
Dr Shakti Kumar Pandey from Lucknow
The political outfits like Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have always reaped political harvests by dividing the Indian society on caste lines. They try to allure the castes by offering sops and benefits of different kinds. They have been organising caste rallies so brazenly that the High Court Allahabad had to interfere and pronounce a judgment, banning caste rallies.
The governments run by these parties have been using the reservation policy too in different ways, creating variations – like reservation in promotion, reservation in filling back-logs, permitting reserved categories to be considered in general category also, and now applying reservation policy at three levels of UP Civil Services Examinations. These three levels are Preliminary Test, Main Examination and Interview. Earlier the practice has been to give reservation only at the level of final selection, but now the present Chairperson of the UPPSC decided to apply it at all levels. The result being – only 15 per cent of the general category students likely to be selected this time round.
As an obvious consequence the affected students took to streets and Allahabad perhaps had not seen a greater violence in recent years, as the city witnessed this month. The High Court once again intervened and directed the UPPSC to withhold the results, and subsequently, apprehending a strong resistance by the students’ community and a final verdict by the HC too, the UPPSC Chairperson chose to withdraw the controversial provision, thus saving the UP government from a serious embarrassment. And now the other group, that was to benefit from the new provision, has taken to streets. They are up in arms to pressurise the government to implement the new provisions.
There have been violent protests by pro-quota groups too. Police maintained a tight vigil on sensitive spots, including the office of Samajwadi Party (SP) in George Town and houses of party leaders. Meanwhile pro-reservation group laid siege to Samajvadi Party office in Allahabad, demanding withdrawal of UPPSC order cancelling the results of PCS Mains. A heavy posse of police personnel patrolled the city.
The anti-reservationists, meanwhile, have kept away from the developments fuelled by recent UPPSC order. The frayed nerves of the group were calmed following the release of student leaders, who were arrested for violence on July 15 and 22. The group’s activity was confined to demanding the removal of UPPSC chairman. A group of students held a meeting at Hindu Hostel and urged the district magistrate to release the arrested students.
Even as the Allahabad High Court has reserved its judgment on the writ petition challenging the recent decision of Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) to open unreserved category vacancies for reserved category candidates, a mob of 2000-2500 students had gone on rampage ransacking shops and vehicles, pelting stones at policemen and trying to torch two vehicles near Salori area. There were clashes between police and students at more than three spots when students were involved in vandalism. The students were shouting slogans against UPPSC and state government.
The protest came soon after Allahabad high court reserved its judgment on the petition challenging the policy, which proposes caste base quota from preliminary exams stage. Students including hostlers came out on streets and were taking out a march. The students also played with colours on streets. When police tried to stop them, they shouted slogans against state government and started pelting stones at policemen. The police took no time to cane charge the agitating students and chased them away from the pockets of Salori and Govindpur. The shops and other business establishments remained closed due to students agitation on streets.
Trouble started around noon when thousands of candidates gathered in front of the UPPSC building and started raising slogans. It turned violent with protesters hurling stones and bricks and blocking roads. Panicky citizens ran home and shops and business establishments downed shutters as the protests spread. Police estimated the protesters had damaged more than 14 vehicles, including five city buses. Roadways buses were targeted by students in the presence of policemen at Civil Lines and cops failed to stop them. Businesses belonging to Samajwadi Party leaders or workers were targeted. Police estimated there were more than 15,000 protesters.
The mob also attacked the house of a Samajwadi Party MLA from Phulpur, Sayeed Ahmad, at Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Civil Lines, where they assaulted the guards. The MLA told the media that the students entered the compound forcibly, pelted stones and broke window panes. The protesters alleged that the new reservation policy was aimed at benefiting castes that have been traditional voters of the Samajwadi Party.