New Delhi: Civil Service aspirants today tried to march towards Parliament and were taken into preventive custody by police as they stepped up their protest against the CSAT exam.
Protesters were stopped by police outside Central Secretariat metro station from where around 300 of them were taken to Parliament Street police station.
Two Metro Stations—Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhavan—were shut at 12:45 P.M. in order to prevent the protesters from reaching anywhere near Parliament House. The two stations were later opened at 3:00 P.M.
“We did not lathicharge any protesters and used minimal force. We had to physically evict them as they lay down on the road. Some of them tried to flee but were caught and detained at Parliament Street police station... 300 protesters, including six girls, were detained,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (New Delhi), SBS Tyagi.
One protester, identified as Neeraj, who was taking part in a stir in the Mukherjee Nagar area of north-west Delhi, tried to set himself on fire but was saved by a Police Control Room (PCR) van which was patrolling the area.
The protesting UPSC aspirants have claimed that the current format discriminates against those who are not proficient in English.
“We wanted to go towards Parliament as nobody from the government has come to talk to us. In its current format, there is a greater chance of CSAT discriminating against those who are not so proficient in English.
“We have got assurances in the past but nothing happened. Yesterday, we were issued admit cards and on August 24 we have our papers. We want something to be done immediately,” said a protesting student.
Civil Service aspirants who have long been demanding the scrapping of the Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) last night blocked the main highway by-pass road near Burari in north Delhi after UPSC began issuing admit cards for the preliminary examination scheduled next month.
The protesters also clashed with police, set several vehicles, including a police jeep, on fire and engaged in stone-pelting, leaving 12 people injured.
According to Joint Commissioner of Police Sandeep Goel, the incident took place at around 8.30 P.M. when about 500 to 700 protesters tried to block the main highway by-pass road over their demand for the scrapping of the CSAT.
“Two roadways buses and a bike were also burnt by the protesters. Among those injured is a roadways bus driver, a passerby and 10 policemen,” said Deputy Commissioner of police (North), Madhur Verma.
Police, who had to fire tear gas shells and resort to a lathi-charge to disperse the protesters, refuted charges by the UPSC aspirants that the ruckus was actually created by Kanwariyas.
“Some Kanwariya pilgrims camping nearby even helped police control the protesters,” said Verma.
Police arrested 20 protesters and charged them with rioting, damaging public property, preventing public servants from performing their duty and assault.
“We have registered a case under the relevant sections at Timarpur police station. We have videographed the whole incident and more arrests are possible after those who engaged in arson and rioting are identified,” police added.