The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Exam cancellation ruled out

Nov. 20: Nitish Kumar today expressed regret that the recent violence in pockets of Assam was because of the row over railway recruitment tests but ruled out cancelling them as it would affect job-seekers across the country.

“It is unfortunate that recent happenings in parts of Assam were the fallout of a row over railway recruitment tests. But it would be unwise on our part to cancel examinations since that will imply stalling the process of new recruitments altogether,” he told a gathering in Cooch Behar this morning.

Over 20 people have been killed in the past few days after militants targeted Hindi-speaking people in migrant-dominated areas in reprisal attacks after a recruitment test blockade in Guwahati last week led to a series of mob raids on trains passing through Bihar.

At a function in Alipurduar earlier in the morning, Kumar said: “If we decide to withdraw recruitment tests, it would adversely affect job-seekers nation-wide since the railways is the principal largescale employer in the country.”

Addressing reporters in Siliguri, he said “the Assam government should act tough to control violence in the state. It is extremely unfortunate that innocent people are falling victims to casteist politics”. He appealed to the chief ministers of both Bihar and Assam to act concertedly to stop the violence.

The minister was in north Bengal as part of a programme to flag off several projects, including the inaugural run of the new train from Alipurduar junction to Siliguri junction via NJP as well as the inauguration of the New Maynaguri-Jogijhopa link.

Quota claim

Members of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) today laid siege to the Northeast Frontier Railway headquarters at Maligaon to protest its “biased” recruitment policy, which it identified as the root cause of the unrest leading to the attacks on Bihari migrants.

Thousands of AASU members squatted on the roads in front of the headquarters, blocking traffic for several hours. They raised slogans in support of the demand for 100 per cent reservation of grade III and IV railway jobs in the state for local candidates.

AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya, general secretary Amiyo Kumar Bhuyan and other leaders declared that the agitation over the recruitment policy would be intensified. The student organisation is planning demonstrations in all district and sub-divisional headquarters on November 24.

An all-party meeting convened by the AASU this afternoon backed the agitation and resolved to send a delegation to Delhi to draw the Prime Minister’s attention to the demands for reservation of jobs and security to railway passengers from the state.

Representatives of the AGP, BJP, CPI, United Minorities Front, Autonomous State Demand Committee, Purbanchaliya Lok Parishad, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and Revolutionary Communist Party of India attended the meeting. Leaders of the ruling Congress and the CPM were, however, absent.

The AGP had steered clear of an all-party meeting convened by chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday. The party later claimed it was not invited.

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