Staff Reporter

South Western Railway accused of giving preference to non-Karnataka candidates

Protesters allege arrangements have been made for travel and stay of candidates from Bihar

They say recruitment for Group ‘D’ posts should not be made on all-India basis

BANGALORE: Services of several trains were affected in the State on Tuesday as pro-Kannada activists continued their protest for the fifth consecutive day throughout the State against the “injustice” being meted out to Kannadigas in the ongoing recruitment process for filling 4,701 Group ‘D’ vacancies in the South Western Railway.

Activists of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, who stormed the Yeshwanthpur Railway Station, were caned by the police. In the melee, Yeshwanthpur – Nizamuddin Sampark Kranthi Express scheduled to leave Yeshwanthpur at 1.40 p.m. was held up for an hour. Activists staged protest at Bidadi, where they detained Mysore-Bangalore Passenger for over 20 minutes and Bangalore-Mysore Passenger for another 20 minutes. Members of the vedike detained Yeshwanthpur-Dadar Chalukya Express at Dharwad Railway Station for about 20 minutes urging the Railway authorities to stop the recruitment process immediately.

Vedike activists attempted to barge into the Yeshwanthpur Railway Grounds in Bangalore on Tuesday morning where the physical fitness test was under way. However, the police prevented them from entering the grounds.

Pro-Kannada activists mobbed Union Minister of State for Labour Oscar Fernandes in Bangalore on the same issue. When Mr. Fernandes was coming out after attending a function at the Town Hall, activists surrounded him and raised slogans against the Centre, the Railways and the “inaction” by MPs from State on the issue.

Activists of various Kannada organisations are up in arms against the Railways, alleging that “preferential” treatment was being given to candidates from outside Karnataka, particularly those from Bihar, the home State of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad. They allege that the Railways had arranged special coaches to bring candidates from Bihar and had even arranged for their boarding and lodging in Bangalore, Mysore and Hubli.

Several organisations, including the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), staged dharna in Hubli and Dharwad.

It has been the demand of these organisations that being Group ‘D’ vacancies, the posts should be filled with local candidates and it should not be through all-India recruitment. They demand that reservation to Kannadigas should be offered proportionate to their population as South Western Railway had partial operations in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa.

Physical fitness test comprising a run for 1.5 km in six minutes was being conducted by the SWR in Bangalore, Hubli and Mysore since January 5. The South Western Railway has undertaken such a large recruitment for the first time. Successful candidates in physical fitness test will be called for an objective-type written test. There will be no interviews and selection will be based on the performance in the written test.

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