Reservation law sparks off student protests in Allahabad

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Photo - PTI
Photo – PTI

Lucknow, 15 July: Several aspirants from the general category of the state civil service examination today went on a rampage in Allahabad against amendments in the reservation rules for OBCs by the UP Pradesh Service Commission. The students alleged that rules have been amended only to benefit the Yadav community among the OBCs, where Akhilesh Yadav is the Chief Minister of the state.

A mob of more than 1,000 students vandalized over 50 shops in civil lines, the main shopping area of the city and damaged over 50 vehicles including a dozen buses of the state road transport corporation. SUVs and luxury cars with flags of the Samajwadi Party (SP) were particularly targeted by the irate students.

Today’s incident in Allahabad has grim portents for UP, as it’s likely to snowball into a state wide anti reservation agitation. The students from the general category are on a relay fast, in front of the office of the state service commission against the amendment in the rules, since 10 July. Students from the OBC community have welcomed the Commission’s move.

The agitation has already put the SP in a dilemma which is relentlessly wooing the upper caste to bolster its support base ahead of the 2014 parliament elections. “It is unfair on the part of the Commission to amend the reservation rules in the midst of the recruitment process. This issue cannot be allowed to simmer and I will take the matter with the chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and the SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’’, said Revati Raman Singh, Samajwadi Party MP from Allahabad.

The anti reservation activist had challenged the move of the Commission in the Allahabad high court, which directed the state government to file the counter affidavit and posted the case for next hearing on 22 July. The preliminary and main examinations have been completed and interviews are scheduled to be held in Allahabad from 26 July. The general category students have also rechristened the commission as “Yadav Service Commission”.

With the amendments in the rules for reservation of the OBCs by the Commission in May 2013, the OBC quota is likely to hit 70 percent against 27 percent as provided by the law. Prior to the amendment in rules, the reservation quota was fixed at the final stage of recruitment or after the completion of the interviews. Now, the quota is being applied at three stages—preliminary examinations, main exam and interviews – thus immensely benefiting the reserved category students.

“Against the 1,316 candidates who have qualified the main examination only 250 are from the general category, after the amendments in reservation rules by the Commission. As per the law Legislated by the UP assembly, the number of general category students should be over 500’’, said a student adding “the Commission has no jurisdiction to amend the rules which is the sole prerogative of the State Legislature”.

The students mostly from Allahabad University, who had appeared for the 2011 State civil service (2011) examinations, alleged that the Commission has changed rules of reservation in the midst of the recruitment process only to benefit the Yadav community among the other backward castes (OBCs). The district administration of Allahabad, where the high court is also located, was taken off guard by the violent agitation against reservation for the OBCs, after over two decades of the implementation of the Mandal Commission report in 1990, providing for the reservation of the OBCs in government services and education institutions. The state government had formally implemented reservation for the OBCs in 1994, after the state assembly passed the UP public services (reservation for the SC and OBCs) amendment Act 1994.

“The Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party government has converted the State Service Commission into Yadav Service Commission, where against the 27 percent quota in jobs for the OBCs, Yadavs alone have will grab the lion’s share of over 70 percent of the seats in State civil service (executive branch)”, said Ritesh Kumar, adding “its a self inspired movement of the students with no organized leadership”. The agitating students maintained that they were not against the 27 percent quota for the OBCs, but they were fighting against the manipulations by the State Service commission to benefit a particular community among the OBCs – the Yadavs.

In the recent recruitments made by the Commission for the post of Lecturer for the state run degree colleges, out of 13 positions vacant, 8 were taken by the Yadav candidates, while the remaining 5 included all other categories – reserved and un reserved.

Dr. Anil Yadav, a confidant of the Samajwadi Party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, who is a retired lecturer from a degree college in Shikohabad, (near Manipuri, the Lok Sabha constituency of the SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) is the chairman of the Commission. He was appointed on 4 April last year. Anil Kumar Yadav is the secretary of the Commission.

The secretary of the Commission Anil Kumar Yadav said, “under Article 320 (1) of the Constitution the state service commission has the authority to frame the rules of recruitment including reservation for all the jobs under the state government for which examination and interviews are conducted by it”. He added, “if the reservation quota is not implemented at all the three stages of recruitment for the State civil service —preliminary, main exam and interview, then it becomes difficult for the Commission to find the required number of candidates under the reserved category and a large number of candidates have to be selected for the interview”.

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Special Correspondent (Lucknow)

Virendra Nath Bhatt is a post graduate in Economics. Started career as journalist in 1982, by contributing for a couple of Hindi dailies of Lucknow and Bareilly and also Jansatta of Delhi. Joined the English daily `The Pioneer in 1990 and later shifted to National Herald. After one year joined as correspondent for the Onlooker Magazine published from Bombay in 1991. In 1995 again joined The Pioneer in 1995 and worked till 2007. In December joined Indian Express Luck now. In September 2011 joined Tehelka. Bhatt has extensively covered parliament and assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh since 1985 and also the Ramjanma Bhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute in Ayodhya and the movement for social justice – the social strife against the implementation of the Mandal commission report in August 1990.

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