Protests erupt as Maha state civil service exams put off again

Causing a huge scare in corona times, thousands of youths took to the streets across Maharashtra on Thursday to protest the state government notification postponing the upcoming prestigious Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) preliminary examinations, leading to police carrying out a baton charge in some places to disperse them.

The MPSC 2020 prelims exams, scheduled to be conducted on March 14, have been postponed for the fifth time in the past one year owing to the Covid-19 crisis, putting the future of many in jeopardy, students said.

An estimated 260,000 plus candidates, including several women, in the 21-30 age group, who have travelled from remote parts of the state, were hoping to appear for the preliminary exams, comprising two objective-type papers, at various centres in the state on Sunday.

Conducted annually by the statutory body, the exams would open the door for successful in various government jobs across sectors based on merits and the applicable reservation criteria.

Taken aback by the road blockades, sit-ins, slogan-shouting and other forms of agitation that erupted in Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad, Amravati, Solapur, Nanded, Kolhapur, Jalgaon, and other places, the local police and district administrations rushed to the spots to control the situation.

At some places, the agitating students vowed that they would not clear the roads till the exams were conducted as scheduled on Sunday.

As police undertook baton charges on protesting candidates in Amravati and some other places, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called up the Director General of Police Hemant Nagrale and other officials instructing them to deal with restraint vis-a-vis the protestors.

Ruling ally and state Congress President Nana Patole, Minister Vijay Wadettiwar and others called up Thackeray and urged him to work out a solution to the sudden crisis on priority given the high emotions.

Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis slammed the Maha Vikas Aghadi government for the move and demanded that the notification be cancelled and the exams conducted immediately.

“Such repeated postponments of the MPSC exams results in huge financial losses and mental torture to the students who prepare for it for years The notification must be withdrawn immediately,” he said in a tweet.

MVA constituent Nationalist Congress Party legislator Rohit Pawar urged the government to resolve the issue at the earliest and said he was “personally in favour of conducting the exams” but after taking all Covid-19 precautions at all venues.

Several other political leaders across parties have appealed to the state government and the MPSC to consider the plight of candidates and make arrangements to hold the exams as per the schedules.