After a day-long drama at Central Vista between Udyog Bhavan and Mahatma Mandir here where hundreds of job aspirants gathered seeking the cancellation of examination to recruit 3,910 vacancies of non-secretariat clerks and office assistants, the Gujarat government Thursday evening announced a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into various allegations of irregularities and paper leak.
The SIT has been mandated to submit its report to the government within 10 days. The announcement seemed to have divided the protesters and majority of them left the camp by late evening. However, later in the night, the protesteres, not content with the decision, were seen regrouping at the site.
Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja declared the formation of the four-member SIT in a joint press conference with two of the leaders of the protesting job aspirants, Yuvrajsinh Jadeja and Hardik Prajapati. Those included in the SIT are Principal Secretary (General Administration Department or GAD) Kamal Dayani, Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Manoj Sashidharan, Inspector General of Police (Gandhinagar Range) Mayanksinh Chavda, and Additional Secretary (GAD) Jwalant Trivedi.
While Dayani has been named chairman of the SIT, Trivedi is named as member secretary. None of the protesters have been made part of the SIT. Minister Jadeja said that SIT is an official body and therefore a non-government official cannot be part of it.
Posts in question of same cadre with similar pay scale
Binsachivalay Clerk (Non-secretariat Clerk) and Office Assistant are two posts of same cadre falling under Class III rank in the state government with similar pay scale. Non-secretariat clerk is a post in various offices of the state government outside the Secretariat such as various commissionerates, employment offices, roads & building department’s offices outside the secretariat, Collector offices, etc. Office Assistant is a post in various departments of the state government at Secretariat. In both the posts, the job profile of the two is related to clerical works. Sometime, Office Assistants may have to perform other work like data entry operator or deputy section officer.
The SIT has been mandated to probe into various aspects of the episode such as instances of paper leak, copying or other irregularity. The SIT will have the freedom to take help of the Home Department, GAD and Forensic Science Laboratory. And the SIT will also consider various written and oral representations from the candidates.
The complaints received by state authorities so far in connection with the examination will also be transferred to the SIT. Jadeja said that result of the examination will be kept reserved till the SIT submits its report to the state government. He added that the SIT will hold a meeting with the representatives of the protesting job aspirants — Yuvrajsinh Jadeja, Hardik Prajapati, Yuvrajsinh Gohil and Bhavsinh Sarvaiya — on Friday.
So far, Minister Jadeja refuted any paper leak in the episode while indicating possible irregularities that can be probed. On Wednesday, Jadeja stated that police have already registered an FIR in Palanpur of Banaskantha related to copying in the examination. In that case, Jadeja said, one candidate had illegally taken pictures of the question paper on mobile phone from the examination hall and sent it to another person through WhatsApp and the latter sent him the answer key.
Before the press conference Thursday evening, high drama was witnessed at Central Vista here where hundreds of job aspirants were protesting since Wednesday night. They were demanding the cancellation of examination alleging paper leak and other irregularities in the examination for the recruitment of non-secretariat clerks and office assistants.
The recruitment examination was conducted by the Gujarat Subordinate Services Selection Board (GSSSB) on November 17 at 3,173 examination centres across the state. More than six lakh candidates took the examination.
After the examination, complaints of irregularities and paper leak have been emerging from various parts of the state. On Wednesday, hundreds of students had thronged Satyagrah Chhavani locality following which police had detained around 700 of them. The protesting job aspirants, however, gathered in big number once again near Central Vista on Wednesday night.
The protesting candidates, continued getting huge response on Thursday as well. Various political leaders came in their support, the first of the lot being former chief minister and current leader of Nationalist Congress Party, Shankersinh Vaghela. He was followed by Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda.
Initially, the protesting candidates opposed Amit Chavda, but then they let him sit with them for some time. Later, Patidar youth leader Hardik Patel who joined the Congress came in support. However, he faced stiff opposition from the protesters who even shouted slogans against him. At one point, the protesters deserted Hardik and gathered on the road away from him. Eventually, Hardik left the spot. After this, leader of Karni Sena Raj Shekhawat arrived at the spot.
The protest site witnessed heavy police deployment with presence of both Gandhinagar district Superintendent of Police Mayur Chavda and IG (Gandhinagar Range) Mayanksinh Chavda. The units of Local Crime Branch (LIB) and Special Operations Group (SOG) along with officials of Intelligence Bureau from Centre and State were also present.
Protesters came in from various districts of the state, including Mahisagar, Banaskantha, Gandhinagar, Mehsana, Surendranagar, Rajkot and Panchmahals.
During all the entry and exit of various leaders from the protest camp, leader of the protesters Yuvrajsinh Jadeja kept going away and coming back to the place. In the morning, Jadeja held a meeting with Gandhinagar Collector Kuldeep Arya and IG Mayanksinh Chavda at the Collector Office where the idea of forming an SIT to look into the grievances of the candidates floated for the first time. When Yuvrajsinh Jadeja came back to the protest camp after the meeting and talked about the formation of SIT, he faced opposition from the people present there who did not want anything, but cancellation of examination.
Congress leaders Amit Chavda, Paresh Dhanani and Hardik Patel came back to the site late in the night after protesters regrouped there.
In the evening, Yuvrajsinh Jadeja addressed the gathering from a distance and apparently under police protection telling them that let him give evidence to the SIT while expressing confidence that it will force the government to cancel the examination. After addressing the gathering, Yuvrajsinh was swiftly taken away by police in a police vehicle without letting media to speak with him. He, later, emerged with MoS Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja at the Collector’s office to address a joint press conference.
During the press conference, Yuvrajsinh Jadeja expressed confidence that he will not have to protest again as the evidence to be produced by him before the SIT will be sufficient to prove their point (of paper leak). He, however, did not give clear answer to queries regarding his earlier demand of cancellation of exam and nothing else.
Meanwhile, the development seemed to have not only taken the sheen out of the agitation, but also divided the protesters. After the press conference by Minister Jadeja, majority of the protesters left the protest camp even as around 100 of them still holding the ground seeking cancellation of examination.
Jaydeep Chaudhary from Mehsana said, “We are not satisfied with this SIT. We do not want anything, but cancellation of the examination. Around 100-200 of us are still at the protest site and if nothing happens, we will start a hunger strike at the site from tomorrow.” Jaydeep expressed suspicion that Yuvrajsinh could have been won over by the state government to accept the formation of SIT.
Another protesting candidate, Yashvi Chaudhary from Gandhinagar said that she was also not happy with the formation of SIT and that she would also join the protesting candidates.