UP-Bihar Bandh call after police-student conflict

The ruling regime continues tactics of police violence in response to youth’s demands for jobs

police beating

Student unrest is growing across the country as more students from various states continue to demand employment. Most recently Bihar and Uttar Pradesh students have called for a state-wide bandh and district-level protests on January 28, 2022, to demand immediate recruitment by the Railways.

On January 25, the Railway Recruitment Board revised the exam pattern for Group D applicants with two Computer- Based Tests (CBTs) instead of one, for the recruitment of various posts. Aspirants who had cleared the earlier exam in 2019 decried this decision. Blocking railway tracks in Bihar and UP on Republic Day, they said that the change was a means for the government to disqualify eligible students. Protests broke out in Patna, Ara, Buxar, Allahabad, Banaras, Gorakhpur and other regions of the two states.

It may be mentioned that one of these states, UP will soon face elections. Healthcare workers like ASHAs, mid-day meal workers, teachers and now railway aspirants have time and again condemned the ruling regime for the sorry state of employment in the region.

In Bihar

Unfortunately, the peaceful protests in Bihar soon turned violent with tear gas and lathi-charge attacks by state police in Patna and the burning of four bogies of an empty train. Police claimed that protesting students turned violent and attacked the railway property across the state in a fit of rage. The Bihar Police said that railway properties were damaged in Gaya, Jehanabad, Bhagalpur, Sasaram, Samastipur and Chhapra districts. The protesters also pelted stones towards the cops.

However, All India Students’ Association (AISA) President N. Sai Balaji called this a move to frame students. “Everyone has seen the videos where students were attacked with tear gas despite peaceful demonstrations. It is apparent who incited the violence. The government should have sat down and talked to students about these issues instead of doing this,” he told SabrangIndia.

Balaji said that despite earlier promises, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using the same-old tactic of assuring jobs to students with no immediate plan. Estimating that at least 1.2 crore applicants responded to the announcement of 35,000 railway jobs, he argued that the statistics alone give a bleak image of unemployment in India.

While the government authorities have called for a probe, AISA has given a call for an all-Bihar bandh to further their demands calling for a revision of the test results. Similarly, they demand that pending results from 2019’s test also be published immediately. Protesters will also condemn the privatisation of Railways, demand the dismissal of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and the allegedly “fake” FIRs against students.

Regarding the Wednesday violence AISA Bihar Secretary Sabir Kumar said, “Students fought for the railway test, then the result and now we are demanding the correct result.” However, he avoided commenting on the allegation against students.

In Uttar Pradesh

Like in Bihar, protests broke out in Uttar Pradesh but that ended with brutal police violence inside student lodging. Videos of armed police officers terrorising students went viral on Republic Day following student protests. All of this only because students blocked railway tracks.

It may be mentioned that this is the same state that has reported a disconcertingly rising number of police violence incidents. Like railway aspirants, teaching aspirants on December 5, 2021 gathered in Lucknow to condemn irregularities in the 2019 Uttar Pradesh exam that was to recruit 69,000 assistant teachers across UP. At the time, police attacked in the open. On Wednesday, they entered student hostels.

After the incident, six police personnel in Allahabad were suspended. However, Balaji has called it an election-move to gain votes. To express their distrust, students in Lucknow, Banaras, Allahabad resolved to observe protests outside district headquarters on Friday. Similarly, Opposition parties too cited their support, albeit asking students to not resort to violence.


The repression of aspirants is much like the attack on JNU and JMI students during anti-CAA protests in 2019. Students in supposed safe-spaces were shocked to see armed officers entering the premises and attacking civilians.

Responding to the Prayagraj violence, JNU attack survivor Kawalpreet Kaur said, “The violence certainly reminds you of the JNU and Jamia attacks from before. Students are being targeted be it while protesting or asserting their right to a job. The police violence shows that the government thinks they can ‘manage’ us.”

She stressed that at the end of the day, aspirants only asserted their right to a job. The act that such violence is occurring during employment demonstrations shows that the government’s public sector employment guarantee is fake. Similar protests are cropping up everywhere in India. As such, AISA has been working towards building a campaign demanding employment for the youth.

“To answer the ruling regime’s communal agenda, we are raising a stronger voice for jobs. We see the government’s false assurances, attempts at privatisation, result delay and rigging of results and we are trying to make it an election issue in UP,” said Kawalpreet.

She said that any government that is elected now, must make employment a priority.


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