JAIPUR: Hundreds of tribal youths protesting for jobs on Thursday blocked the traffic on National Highway 8 in Dungarpur district. They damaged several vehicles, vandalized a petrol pump, and pelted stones injuring a dozen policemen.
The protestors have been demanding recruitment of Scheduled Tribe (ST) category candidates in the 1,167 vacant unreserved positions for teacher posts.
The youths decided to take to the streets on Friday after an MLAs' meeting scheduled on September 23 on the issue was cancelled.
The police fired teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the mob. However, the protesting mob took control of a 5 km-stretch of Udaipur-Ahmedabad NH-8 by Friday evening. According to Dungarpur Collector, Kana Ram, “the highway is still blocked and efforts are on to restore law and order. The police have arrested around 30 people.”
Additional force has been deployed to control the situation, the district collector further added.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot appealed to the agitators to maintain law and order and tweeted, “The violent protests in Dungarpur are unfortunate. The constitutional right to protest should be exercised, there should be peaceful demonstrations but no one has the right to take the law in hand. I appeal to all protestors to cooperate in maintaining law and order.”
Though a 10-member committee of district officials has tried to discuss the issue with the protesting tribals, a breakthrough is yet to be found. A group of leaders from the area is expected to meet CM Gehlot on Friday night to resolve the crisis.
Tribal youth in Rajasthan have protested repeatedly over the past two years demanding a chance to compete for recruitment as a teacher in the state through the Rajasthan Eligibility Examination for Teachers (REET).
In December last year, Gehlot had announced the conduct of the examination for teacher recruitment. Through the REET, the government had planned to fill up 31,000 posts and 6,080 vacancies among those were to be reserved for candidates coming under the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) regions spanning over three tribal districts of Banswara, Dungarpur, and Pratapgarh.
Sadly, 10 months after that announcement, there has been no firm decision regarding the exam dates. The government had formed a committee in January this year to decide on the matter within three months. However, nine months have passed since then.