South Western Railway was forced to cancel the physical fitness tests for Group D workers in Bangalore yesterday after activists of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike entered the SWR Institute grounds, raised slogans against the Railways’s injustice to Kannadigas, and alleged favouritism to “candidates of other States”. The KRV activists’ contention was that only “locals” should be recruited for Group D posts. Scared candidates fled the grounds and some did not return to collect their belongings for several hours.
The incident is a grim repeat of similar ethnic-chauvinism in Assam four years ago, where 50 Bihari candidates were denied entry into examination halls, sparking a three-week inter-state rampage that claimed 20 lives. In Bombay, four years ago, the Shiv Sena launched the Bihar ani Bhaiya Baher Kada Mohim (Out with the Biharis and Bhaiyas movement) aimed at “outstation candidates” aiming for jobs of gangmen, khalasis, helpers. They snatched ID cards, tore hall tickets, pulled and punched candidates and bullied the candidates into missing the tests.
Questions: Is the apprehension that “outsiders” are taking away jobs of locals true? Or are linguistic chauvinists tapping the latent xenophobia? Are the railways doing a favour to Laloo Yadav, a railway minister hailing from Bihar? Or is this just a canard? Are protests like these legitimate when Article 16 of the Constitution bars discrimination of candidates on the basis of regional or linguistic grounds? Especially when the Railways is a central government institution? What does the mad clamour for such menial jobs—75 lakh candidates for 20,000 posts—say about job creation at the lowest levels of the economy?
Also read: Karnataka Rakshana Vedike: Good, bad, sad?
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News