A rally by the Morcha in Darjeeling on Friday.
Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Aug. 9: The West Bengal Police Recruitment Board has changed the centres for a written test for sub-inspector posts from Darjeeling to Siliguri, putting 4,000 hill candidates in a fix as they have no way of reaching the plains on August 18 if the shutdown continues.
The notice that mentioned the change in the examination centres didn’t cite the reason for the shift. However, it’s believed that the indefinite shutdown being enforced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills was the reason for the transfer of the exam centres.
According to the notice issued by the chairman of the recruitment board, 895 candidates who were to sit for the written examination at Southfield College and Darjeeling Government College on August 18 will now have to appear for the test at Margaret English School, Pradhanagar, Siliguri.
Delhi Public School, Dagapur, Siliguri, will be the exam centre for another set of 3,000 hill applicants, among them 1,586 women. Their earlier venues were Darjeeling Government College, St. Robert’s High School, R.K.S.P. Boys’ High School, St. Teresa’s Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Nepali Girls’ Higher Secondary School and St. Joseph’s College in Darjeeling.
The notice said that the recruitment board “will not be responsible for any postal delay” in delivering admit cards to the candidates.
The notice said applicants who didn’t receive the admit cards by August 10 could download copies of it from the West Bengal Police website (policewb.gov.in) from August 11. But many applicants said that those who lived in villages would not get access to Internet cafes.
The notice has also directed the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, “to send a soft copy of the admit card data provided to him to the commissioner of police, Siliguri, so that the admit cards could also be issued from the office of the commissionerate in Siliguri to the candidates on urgent basis”.
Sources said the admit cards couldn’t be distributed to all the 3,895 candidates because post offices were shut in the indefinite strike that entered its seventh day today.
Many of the candidates mentioned conveyance problem if by August 18 the strike was not lifted. “It will be difficult for most of the students to go down to Siliguri if the indefinite strike continues. Even though the Morcha has exempted exams from the ambit of the strike, vehicles will refuse to go down to Siliguri,” said a candidate.
Many were of the opinion that if the police managed to conduct the examinations in Darjeeling, the candidates in the hills would have to travel less to reach the exam centres compared to the distance they needed to cover to make it to Siliguri.
Another candidate said: “At least some candidates in and around Darjeeling could sit for the PSC examination held on Sunday. Most of them had walked to the exam centres. However, with the police recruitment exam venues being shifted to Siliguri, even the possibility of walking can be ruled out now.”
On Sunday, during the second day of the indefinite strike, the Public Service Commission had conducted examinations for various posts at St. Teresa’s School, St. Robert’s High School and Nepali Girls’ Higher Secondary School in Darjeeling. However, only 749 candidates of a total of 2,696 could take the exam.
A Darjeeling resident said: “On one hand, the state government talks about bringing normalcy to the hills. But on the other hand, the West Bengal Police Recruitment Board cannot even conduct an examination in the hills.” Officials at the recruitment board in Calcutta could not be contacted today.