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Clash erupts over aptitude test
Centre tries to calm UPSC language fears

New Delhi, July 25 (PTI): Civil service aspirants scaled up their protests against a new test format, prompting the government to say it will not allow any injustice to students on the basis of language in Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams.

Jitendra Singh, minister of state for personnel, sought to calm frayed tempers in Parliament, saying the government is looking at the issue with “all seriousness” and sensitivity and that a three-member panel was again asked today to submit its report within a week.

“The government is not in favour of any injustice to students on the basis of language,” Jitendra told the Rajya Sabha which was adjourned twice during Question Hour following the Opposition’s demand for a clarification by the Prime Minister or the leader of the House on the issue.

Members cutting across party lines demanded a timeline for resolution of the issue and raised concerns over the falling success rate of language students in the UPSC exams.

Singh later appealed to the aspirants to be “patient”, saying the government and the Prime Minister are more concerned than the agitating students and are trying to find a “satisfactory solution”.

Sharad Yadav of the JDU alleged in the Rajya Sabha that language students were facing discrimination in UPSC exams while Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav asked the Speaker to allow a discussion.

The aspirants are protesting against the pattern of Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) in the UPSC exams that they believe gives an unfair advantage to English-speaking students while leaving Hindi and regional language aspirants at a disadvantage. They want the CSAT to be scrapped.

A group of aspirants —some carrying placards decrying the UPSC — were stopped from marching to Parliament.

The protests were intensified after the UPSC issued admit cards yesterday for the preliminary entrance exam scheduled for August 24.

The aspirants agitating against the “language discrimination” tried to march towards Parliament but were stopped by the police which later took them into preventive custody.

The protesters, who had clashed with the police last night in north Delhi, were stopped outside Central Secretariat Metro station from where they were taken to Parliament Street Police Station.

“We have detained around 150 protesters. Necessary preventive action will be taken if needed,” said a senior Delhi police official.

Two Metro stations — Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhavan — were shut briefly to prevent the protesters from reaching anywhere near Parliament House.

The protesters claimed that the current format discriminated against those who are not proficient in English.

“We have got assurances in the past but nothing happened. Yesterday, we were issued our admit cards and now on 24th (of August) we have our papers. We want something to be done immediately,” said a protester.

Spokesperson for the National Students’ Union of India Amrish Ranjan Pandey today said: “The Centre promised that students’ demands would be looked into. But, last night the UPSC issued e-admit cards for the forthcoming preliminary examinations on July 26 leading to another round of widespread protest and anger.”