There seems to be no end in sight to the protests by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirants, who have been demanding scrapping of the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT). A day after the protests turned violent in Mukherjee Nagar area of the National Capital, the aspirants are now marching towards Parliament to “make the government take note of their demands”.
While as many as 5000-7000 students are going towards Parliament, around 1500 others are continuing to stage protests in the Mukherjee Nagar area. According to one of the protestors, several aspirants are moving from Mukherjee Nagar, where police have ensured heavy barricading, to join those at Parliament.
A total of three aspirants – Ajit Kumar Trivedi, Lokpati Tripathi and Mukesh Rai – have gone on fast since Wednesday, and according to them, they would continue to fast unless the government takes a concrete step to resolve the stand-off.
Meanwhile, the Opposition on Friday created ruckus in Parliament over the issue. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice during Question Hour following Opposition’s demand for a clarification by no other than the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House on the issue.
Later, addressing the Rajya Sabha, MoS Jitendra Singh said that the government sympathised with the UPSC aspirants and assured that the Arvind Verma Committee would give its report within a week. “Government sympathises and it should be clear that under no circumstance we will tolerate injustice on the basis oflanguage. The government and the Prime Minister are more concerned than the agitating students and are trying to find a satisfactory solution,” he said. He further assured that the issuing of admit card by the UPSC was just a routine process, which was done as per the calender, and would not influence the decision or report of the panel in any manner.
The matter figured in Lok Sabha too though it did not lead to any adjournment.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Ajit Kumar Trivedi, who is on fast over the issue, hit out at the government, saying, “Our MP Manoj Tiwari had met us and had sought a time of 15 days to find a solution to the issue, but nothing was done by the government during that period, instead, the UPSC issued admit cards for the August 24 examination.”
He further reiterated his appeal to the governemnt: “I appeal to the government with folded hands that it should take some concrete step soon to resolve the issue.”
Referring to the violence in Mukherjee Nagar on Thursday night, Trivedi said that the protest has been going on for quite some time, and has been peaceful since the beginning. He stressed that just a section of people resorted to “unfortunate” violence after the UPSC released the admit cards.
One of the key members of the core group of the protesting aspirants, Abhishek Priyadarshi, said that they would ensure that the protests remained peaceful.
Talking about the Arvind Verma committee, which has been constituted by the government to look into the issue, Priyadarshi said that the panel had been in existence since the tenure of the UPA government itself, but it did not take any step to find a solution to the grievances of the aspirants.
He further said that the government is saying something else while the actions by UPSC suggest something different. Slamming the UPSC for issuing the admit cards, he said that never in the history had the authority issued them one month in advance, but it took the step this time, much to the annoyance of the aspirants.
He alleged that the “CSAT was meant to benefit only those from technical background”, and the move was “a blow to all non-English medium aspirants”.
According to him, the protesters want the government to immediately postpone the exam scheduled for August 24 and recall the admit cards. He added that the government is not even talking to the protesters and they are getting all information through the media itself.
At the heart of the matter is the change of pattern the UPSC introduced in the Civil Services Preliminary Exam starting 2011. Till 2010, the exam used to have two papers — one on general studies and one on an optional subject where aspirants could choose one of 23 listed subjects. This was changed from 2011 onwards, when the UPSC decided to replace the optional subject paper with a paper that tests the aspirants’ aptitude. The syllabus for this paper, protesting aspirants allege, is heavily tilted in favour of those from the Science or, more specifically, Engineering background and is discriminatory against students from Humanities, particularly those who have studied in Hindi-medium.
(With PTI inputs)