Over a thousand students who appeared for the examination for Non-Secretariat Clerks and Office Assistants last month, staged a protest in the state capital on Wednesday, alleging irregularities and a paper leak, and demanding cancellation of the examination.
Following this, district police authorities detained around 700 protesting students even as Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja said that they have already registered an offence against two persons involved in the irregularities. He added that state authorities are investigating into a total of 39 complaints.
The protests continued in Gandhinagar near Udyog Bhavan, about 3 kilometres from the secretariat, as the crowd swelled late on Wednesday night even after they were released by police from detention. The youth were heard shouting slogans against the Centre. Leader of the protesters, Yuvrajsinh Jadeja (30) from Gondal, said that they will continue with protests till the government cancels the examination. “We have given lots of evidence of paper leak and irregularities to the state government.
But for some reason they are anot ready to consider it. They can use money collected from paper leaks and irregularities but they cannot play with future of lakhs of students.”
Another student from Banaskantha, Suresh Thakor, said, “I appeared for the Bin Sachivalay clerk exam. Now I want it cancelled as the question paper was leaked and lots of irregularities were committed.”
The examination was held on November 17 and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani first gave the call to youths to come to Gujarat Assembly on December 9 in protest, alleging that the question paper was leaked.
The recruitment examination was conducted by the Gujarat Subordinate Services Selection Board (GSSSB) for 3,910 vacancies of Non-Secretariat Clerks and Office Assistants. More than 6 lakh candidates appeared for the examination held on November 17 at 3,173 examination centres across the state.
After the examination, complaints of irregularities and a paper leak emerged from various parts of the state. On Wednesday, hundreds of students thronged Satyagrah Chhavani locality in Gandhinagar, which is known as a place of public protest. However, police swung into action and started disbursing the students, while also using force to detain them.
Gandhinagar Superintendent of Police, Mayur Chavda said, “We have detained around 700 of them (protesting students). Three Congress MLAs, Kirit Patel from Patan, Gulabsinh Rajput from Tharad and CJ Chavda from Gandhinagar North, were also detained during the protest and released later.” The SP said that the students were detained as they had gathered without taking mandatory permission from authorities.
As the protest raged and police detained the agitators, Jadeja asserted before the media that the paper for the examination was not leaked. “GSSSB has received 39 complaints and 26 WhatsApp messages of irregularities from five districts. All the complaints are being looked into while referring to the CCTV footage of the concerned centres. It is a huge task and will take a day or two to finish. Necessary action will be taken against those guilty,” he said.
The Home Minister also said that GSSSB will call the administrators of the examination centres, block supervisers and class observers from where the complaints of irregularities were reported. If found guilty, action will be taken against them, Jadeja added. He said they have received complaints of irregularities through WhatsApp from Surendranagar, Banaskantha and Gir Somnath districts, which are also being investigated.
He added that at one centre in Palanpur of Banaskantha, a person who appeared for the exam carried a mobile phone and sent pictures of the question paper to one of his accomplices on WhatsApp, who then sent back the answer key to the candidate. Both the persons have been booked under provisions of the IPC and the Information Technology Act.
Ruling out the cancellation of examination, Jadeja said that only complaints of irregularities were relevant and that the question paper was not leaked. He added that they had also received a tip-off about some youths having the question paper along with its answer key in Bhavnagar. Although, he further said, authorities had gotten the question paper verified and it wasn’t the question paper for the examination.
The opposition Congress, on the other hand, said it will organise a march till the Assembly complex on December 9 if the government failed to cancel the exam.
Jadeja accused the opposition party of misleading youths by taking the help of some “elements”. Congress has alleged large-scale irregularities in the exam to favour candidates having links with the ruling BJP. It also released CCTV footage of two exam centres in Wadhwan town of Surendranagar district to back its claims.
“When youths seek their rights and take their grievances to the government in Gandhinagar, they are detained by the police and no officer meets them. This is not acceptable in the Gujarat of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar (Vallabhbhai Patel),” Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda said.
“The Congress is with the youth in their fight for their right. On December 9, Congress workers will take along aggrieved youths and march till the Assembly complex to seek Chief Minister Vijay Rupani’s reply on why the exam has not been cancelled, and who he seeks to benefit in the name of recruitment,” he added.