Anti-reservation protests held in several parts of the country

Anti-reservation protests held in several parts of the country
New Delhi, May 2 (PTI) Stepping up their protests against a government move to increase the quota for OBCs in institutions of higher learning, thousands of students today held rallies and demonstrations in several parts of the country.

In the capital, a large number of medical students of five premier colleges were joined by Delhi University and school students for an anti-reservation rally that made its way from the prestigious Maulana Azad Medical College to Jantar Mantar in the heart of the city.

The medicos, who have been boycotting classes for nearly a week, shouted slogans against Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh. They carried placards that said "Arjun Singh wants another Rajiv Goswami" and "Believe in intelligence, don't dilute excellence".

Goswami, a Delhi University student, had set himself on fire to protest the implementation of reservations for OBCs in government jobs in keeping with the Mandal Commission's report in 1990. He subsequently died.

Giving the protest a political slant, hundreds of students in Delhi pledged not to vote for the ruling Congress in future polls.

"We as responsible citizens pledge that we shall go and vote henceforth and also resolve never to cast a vote for an irresponsible and insensitive party such as the Indian National Congress (INC)," said the pledge.

Hundreds of medical and engineering students took to the streets in Bihar's capital Patna to oppose the quota for OBCs. Protests were also organised in Assam and Gujarat.

There was also a face-off in Delhi between the anti-reservation protestors and activists of the All India Minorities Forum, which is backing the quota for OBCs.

In West Bengal, students and interns said they planned to intensify the ongoing stir. Junior doctors at the Chittaranjan National Medical College (CNMC), who have been spearheading the protest in Kolkata, said they were in talks with students of all state-run medical colleges to join the agitation.

"There has to be a rational explanation for reservations. You have to respect merit," said Nishanta Deb Ghatak, house staff in the opthalmology department of CNMC.

In Patna, the protestors burnt effigies of HRD Minister Arjun Singh and former prime minister V P Singh, who had implemented the Mandal Commission's recommendations.

Students of several medical colleges in Ahmedabad decided to boycott classes for an indefinite period from today.

(Reopen DEL52) Students in Delhi who marched in the rally under the banner of Youth for Equality submitted memorandums and the signatures they had collected to President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking no change in the reservation policy.

The memorandum demanded that the admission to professional courses across the nation should be based on merit alone and preference should be given to candidates from backward castes only when all other qualifications are equal.

It also asked that "the performance of Mandal Commission should be critically analysed before taking any decision on increasing the existing quota for backward castes".

In Jaipur, students of Mahatma Gandhi National College and other nursing institutions took out a rally and submitted a memorandum to the District Collector.

If the Centre did not shelve the proposal, the students in Rajasthan would intensify the stir, Ramesh Chandra Pathak of the Mahatma Gandhi College said.

"We are not going to tolerate this. In the next 3-4 days, we will start a mass protest," he said.

Several student leaders said they would extend full support to medicos on the reservation issue.

Yesterday, the students of Sawai Man Singh Medical College held a rally protesting the Centre's move to reserve seats in centres of higher education.

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