The 48-hour Jharkhand bandh demanding 100 per cent reservation for locals in government jobs evoked a mixed response on Saturday with sporadic incidents of road blockades and ruckus, officials said.
The bandh, called by the Jharkhand State Students' Union (JSSU), affected a few districts, including Dumka and Sahibganj. Elsewhere, it was life as usual, they said.
In Ranchi, the protesters took to the streets in the morning to enforce the bandh. They assembled at the Khadgara bus stand and requested bus and auto-rickshaw drivers not to ply their vehicles but those seemed to have fallen onto deaf ears as public transport was normal in the state capital.
Markets across the city, including the vegetable markets at Kokar-Lalpur Road and Naga Baba Khatal, were open. The agitators tried to put up a road blockade in Namkum on the outskirts of Ranchi by burning tyres but police swiftly removed them.
Ranchi's Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kishore Kaushal said that no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the district.
"No one will be allowed to disturb the law and order situation under any circumstances," he said.
Kaushal said that elaborate security arrangements were made in the wake of the bandh call. "Police personnel and magistrates were deputed at all major spots, and the situation was being monitored through CCTV cameras," he said.
The bandh affected normal life in Dumka and Sahibganj districts.
Chhatra Samanvay Samiti led the agitation in Dumka. Schools and colleges remained shut, shops were closed, and all major roads were blocked by the agitators. Government offices, banks and petrol pumps were, however, open.
The agitators also took to the streets in Hazaribag, Dhanbad and Bokaro where roads were blocked in many places but normal life remained largely unaffected.
JSSU leader Devendra Mahto claimed the bandh was successful on the first day, and it would continue on Sunday.
"If the government does not withdraw the 60-40 recruitment policy, we will start an indefinite protest programme," he said.
"The Jharkhand government has opened the door for outsiders in state jobs, which we cannot allow. So, we called the bandh," he added.
The JSSU observed a state-wide bandh on April 19 as well over the issue.
Mahto claimed the government had promised an employment policy based on the 1932 'khatiyan' (land settlement) but instead, it introduced a pre-2016 employment policy, under which 60 per cent of the seats will be reserved while 40 per cent will be open for all.
Making 1932 the cut-off year for the domicile policy will help descendants of people living in the region, which is now Jharkhand, prior to that year to get jobs.
"We met 72 MLAs, including 42 from the ruling parties, and 13 MPs to seek their support in our agitation against the 60-40 job policy. They also spoke against it. But still, advertisements for jobs are being issued on the basis of 60-40 ratio," Mahto claimed.
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