A 48-hour bandh organized by the Jharkhand State Students' Union (JSSU) to demand 100 percent reservation for locals in government jobs generated a varied response on Saturday. While sporadic incidents of road blockades and commotion were reported, normalcy prevailed in several districts across the state.
Although protesters in Ranchi took to the streets to enforce the bandh, their efforts seemed ineffective as public transportation continued uninterrupted. The city's markets, including vegetable markets at Kokar-Lalpur Road and Naga Baba Khatal, remained open. In Namkum on the outskirts of Ranchi, agitators attempted to erect a road blockade using burning tires, but the police promptly removed them.
Ranchi's Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Kishore Kaushal, confirmed that no untoward incidents occurred in the district. He asserted that the law and order situation would not be disrupted under any circumstances. Elaborate security measures were implemented throughout the region, with police personnel and magistrates stationed at key locations. CCTV cameras were employed to monitor the situation closely.
However, the bandh had a significant impact on normal life in Dumka and Sahibganj districts. Chhatra Samanvay Samiti spearheaded the agitation in Dumka, resulting in the closure of schools, colleges, and shops, as well as road blockades. Government offices, banks, and petrol pumps, however, remained open.
In Hazaribag, Dhanbad, and Bokaro, protesters also took to the streets and blocked roads in several areas. Nonetheless, the daily lives of residents were largely unaffected by the bandh.
Devendra Mahto, a leader of the JSSU, deemed the bandh successful on its first day and announced its continuation on Sunday. He warned of an indefinite protest program if the government failed to withdraw the 60-40 recruitment policy. Mahto criticized the Jharkhand government for allowing outsiders to compete for state jobs and emphasized the necessity of the bandh to address this concern.
According to Mahto, the government had initially promised an employment policy based on the 1932 'khatiyan' (land settlement), but instead, it introduced a pre-2016 employment policy that reserves 60 percent of positions while leaving 40 percent open to all. Setting 1932 as the cutoff year for the domicile policy would provide employment opportunities to the descendants of individuals residing in the region before that year.
Mahto further claimed that they had approached 72 MLAs, including 42 from ruling parties, and 13 MPs seeking support for their agitation against the 60-40 job policy, and they had received vocal opposition to the policy. However, advertisements for jobs continued to be issued based on the 60-40 ratio, according to Mahto.
(With PTI Inputs)