Thousands of students, protesting a government decision on reservation of jobs, on Monday went on the rampage here, vandalising dozens of vehicles and damaging several commercial units.

The civil service aspirants, armed with sticks and rods, also attacked the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) building and indulged in stone pelting for over three hours. Police resorted to cane-charging and brought the situation under control. A student suffered minor injuries.

The UPPSC had recently decided to open up the unreserved category vacancies for reserved category candidates. The students alleged that the amendment was made to facilitate the entry of members of the OBC Yadav community into reserved posts.

On May 27, the UPPSC accepted the proposal of its member Gurudarshan Singh, who stated that unreserved category vacancies did not belong to any category and candidates belonging to all the categories should be called for interviews under the unreserved category.

The students protested the implementation of quotas at various stages in the selection, saying reservations should be implemented in the final stage.

“We are not against reservation but it must be legal. Just to state an example of the trend, out of 47 students, 20 belonging to the Yadav caste were called for interview in a local college recently. Do only Yadavs make the OBC?” a student leader said on condition of anonymity.

It is to be noted that the ruling Samajwadi Party government has its support base among the Yadavs.

While a delegation of student leaders had been observing fast and staging protests over the past week against the decision, a writ petition by Sudhir Kumar Singh and five others has challenged the decision in the Allahabad High Court.

The petitioners have questioned the amendment and called it “illegal.” They contended that only the State legislature could make amendments to the existing rules of the UPPSC.

The students claim that as a result of the new rule, reserved category candidates have been selected on the post of unreserved category candidates, and thus, according to them, as many as 250 general category candidates have been illegally ousted. The petitioners said the decision was against the Supreme Court’s opinion in the Indira Sahni case.

The petitioners requested the Court to quash the result of the 2011 PCS (mains) examination.

Around noon, the mob targeted government buses, official cars and vehicles carrying Samajwadi Party flags and brought down party hoardings. A section of the mob also attacked shops and shopping malls in the posh Civil Lines area of the city. Two sections of students clashed with each other in some parts of the city. Some political parties had extended their support to the students on Sunday.