In an unprecedented move, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has sacked the chiefs of all 20 Railway Recruitment Boards (RRBs) across the country.

The decision is being seen as the first step towards ushering in a new recruitment process.

Ms. Banerjee has been openly advocating recruitment of local hands and conducting examinations in the local language. She has also been contemplating holding examinations simultaneously to ensure that only local youth are recruited.

In the recent past, the recruitment process led to controversies following opposition to “outsiders” taking the competitive examinations in other States. The examinations had to be cancelled at some centres following violence and disorder.

The sacking of the RRB chiefs has, however, has taken the Railway Bhawan by surprise. For, this is the first time in 10 years that all heads have been relieved of their posts in one go, though several of them have not completed their three-year tenure.

In 1998, the then Railway Minister Nitish Kumar dispensed with the system of appointment of politicians as RRB chairmen. Instead, senior railway officials were appointed to the posts to allow the boards to function freely and impartially.

Ms. Banerjee’s decision has taken on a political colour as all the sacked chairpersons were appointed during the tenure of Lalu Prasad. A couple of them came under the scanner following leakage of question papers.

But no reason has been cited in the official order showing the RRB heads the door. It, however, said that orders for the officers relieved, most of them in the senior administrative grade, would follow. They are without any assignment as of now.

Those relieved are Rakesh Bahl, C.I. Bharti, P.K. Sanghi, V.V. Kokate, L.B. Rai, N.K. Mohanty, Prabash Kumar, Prem Narayan, T. Kuppan, Shailendra Kumar, T. Rabha, A.K. Gupta, D.K. Shrivastava, T.K. Mitra, Nand Kishore, Sushant Jha, Angraj Mohan, J.K. Guria, V. Pitchairaju and M.A. Menon.

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