Civil service aspirants appear for the prelims at Ursuline Convent School in Ranchi on Sunday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
As this year’s Union Public Service Commission preliminary exam, mired in the English language comprehension row, was held today across the country on Sunday, some 20,000 aspirants at Ranchi’s 39 centres answered the two papers peacefully thanks to the administration deploying heavy security.
Ranchi administration took no chances, given the uncertainty due to fears of more student protests and the fact that the prelims of the UPSC exam— more formally called the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) — coincided with JMM’s Kala Divas to protest against the BJP at the Centre.
At each of the 39 centres there were four magistrates, a dozen security personnel and a mobile surveillance team. Security personnel were on vigil from 8am onwards, keeping a close eye on the centres concerned and the surrounding area, prohibiting crowds from assembling nearby.
Of two hours duration and comprising 200 marks each, papers I and II started at 9.30am and 2.30pm, respectively. Going by UPSC directive, all centres put up notices asking students to not attempt English comprehension questions in paper II, which did not have a Hindi translation. All other sections in the paper had bilingual questions in English and Hindi.
“We have strict orders from the administration to avoid unwanted people unless they are candidates or their parents. This is to ensure law and order is maintained,” said an officer at the Purulia Road centre, not willing to be named.
He added that extra security was in view of the JMM’s Kala Divas, held three days after their party leader and chief minister Hemant Soren was booed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 21 government programme at Ranchi’s Prabhat Tara Ground allegedly by BJP workers.
Reacting strongly, the JMM threatened to block all Union minister visits to the state. On Saturday, JMM and BJP workers clashed during Union labour minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s visit to Ranchi.
Though the JMM withdrew a strike in view of the UPSC exam it did hold a march at Albert Ekka Chowk in the morning.
Examinees who spoke to The Telegraph said they were not much affected by any of the two issues. “Answering or not answering the three English comprehension questions in paper-II did not make much of a difference for me. Questions were tough in any case. I found paper-I okay and paper II lengthy, tough and confusing,” said Kumari Yamini (23) of Hazaribagh.
“The exam is more analytical and tests the students’ aptitude for civil services. I found more focus this time on biology and environment,” said IIT graduate Sneh Sagar (27), resident of Ranchi.
Surabhi Singh (25), who has recently just bagged a job in railways, said: “Paper II was lengthy, analytical but fun for those who hail from economics or maths background. It also had lots of questions based on globalisation.”
The Supreme Court on Saturday rejected a last-minute plea by a student to postpone the UPSC prelims for two more months in the wake of the outrage surrounding English comprehension questions among a section of students.
Earlier this month, the Centre had bowed down before protesting students who had said the inclusion of the Class X level English questions discriminated against aspirants from Hindi or vernacular backgrounds.
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