PSC rank-holders’ stir gains strength

Emotional scenes near Secretariat; job aspirants from northern districts join stir

The vicinity of the Secretariat witnessed an outpouring of grief with the agitating Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) rank-holders ‘begging’ for jobs by crawling on their knees on the scorching hot pavement on M.G. Road here Monday. The scenes unfolded shortly after the Cabinet decided against accepting their demands, including creation of posts to accommodate rank-holders and an extension of validity of rank lists that neared their end.

Many protesters collapsed in the heat and two were rushed to General Hospital.

“At this age we can no longer apply for jobs through the PSC. All of us had pinned our hopes on a favourable decision by the government,” an emotional Satheesh from Idukki said. Rank-holders from districts as far as Palakkad and Malappuram have been joining the demonstration here.

The protesters claimed that appointments to last grade servants’ posts had dipped significantly in the past three years. While 12,959 and 11,395 people were appointed during 2012-15 and 2015-18, only around 6,000 were employed from 2018.

Laya Rajesh, who has been in the forefront of the agitation, said their demand to implement a court order to fix the working hours of watchman and other posts at 8 hours (instead of the existing 12) so as to create more posts was not heeded so as to benefit those engaged on contract.

Referring to criticisms that the demonstration has acquired a political tinge, she said the protesters had not invited any forums to join them. Both the Youth Congress and the DYFI were welcome to be part of the agitation, she said.

A group of rank-holders on the civil police officers’ list fell on former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s feet and wept when he called on them. The veteran Congress leader appealed to the government to adopt a compassionate stance.

The indefinite fast observed by Youth Congress State president Shafi Parambil and vice president K.S. Sabarinadhan completed its second day. They pledged to continue with the demonstration until the rank-holders’ demands are met. A few activists were arrested when they attempted to wave black flags at Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan when he went to the Mascot Hotel to attend a meeting. The Muslim Youth League and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha also held demonstrations.

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