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Job-seekers clash with Meghalaya cops

Shillong, Jan. 15: Meghalaya’s seat of power here this afternoon witnessed a brief but intense chaos when qualified candidates for jobs had a scuffle with police personnel.

Hundreds of members of the Association of Qualified Grade IV, 2011 assembled at the parking lot near the additional secretariat to stage a hunger strike to press for their demand seeking appointment in government posts.

The youths reached the area around 10.30am and a magistrate allowed them to demonstrate for not more than two hours.

The candidates were also joined in by members of the Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) led by Irene Hujon and Christabel Wanniang.

Around 12.30pm, the magistrate asked the job-seekers to vacate the area as prohibitory orders had been clamped. As his order was not heeded to, police were called in to disperse the protesters.

While the police were trying to disperse the crowd, the protesters remained adamant. In the chaos, three persons, including a woman police officer, were reportedly injured.

One of the protesters, T. Nongsiej, was reported to be critically injured in his spinal cord and has been admitted to a private hospital. Wanniang, too, was reportedly injured and shifted to Shillong civil hospital.

A woman police officer has lodged an FIR alleging that Wanniang had assaulted her and obstructed her from performing her duty.

Later, police personnel took the protesters in three minibuses to the Mawngap police outpost on the outskirts of the city where they were detained.

“It was a peaceful hunger strike but the police suddenly started dragging us like criminals inside the buses without informing us,” association president Arthur B. Kurbah said.

Kurbah also said the association members would continue their indefinite hunger strike till the government appoints them.

Till the filing of this report, the association members were still at the police outpost.

Deputy commissioner, East Khasi Hills, Sanjay Goyal, however, said cases were likely to be registered against the protesters as they had staged the strike without obtaining permission from the administration. “No permission was sought, and moreover the area was already under Section 144 CrPC,” Goyal said.

As many as 331 candidates qualified in the District Selection Committee (DSC) tests on October 28, 2011, but only 122 of them were appointed.

The remaining 209 candidates were yet to be appointed as the period of the merit list has lapsed.

The matter came up for discussion during the last session of the Assembly last month.

While replying to a zero hour notice tabled by Opposition leader Conrad K. Sangma, chief minister Mukul Sangma had said that the government cannot extend the period of the merit list of the qualified candidates on account of a Supreme Court ruling.

Sangma said that the court had clearly stated that the government cannot recommend appointments beyond the number of posts which have been advertised.

“We cannot go against the ruling of the apex court since it would be a violation of Articles 16 and 18 of the Constitution,” he had said.