Thousands of job aspirants arrived at various Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) exam centres in Karnataka on Saturday morning, but little did they know that they would not be able to write the exam.
Activists of the pro-Kannada outfit, Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, shut down multiple IBPS exam centres across various districts in Karnataka, demanding that the jobs be given only to Kannada-speaking candidates.
The situation turned critical in Hubballi, where hundreds of protesters gathered outside a private college and shut its gates.
Several Vedike activists, who had the backing of the exam aspirants from Karnataka, tore up their hall tickets.
According to Hubballi-Dharwad Police Commissioner MN Nagaraj, an IBPS aspirant from Karnataka, Saleem, slit his wrist demanding that the exam must be conducted only for those who speak Kannada.
"Soon after he attempted suicide, the crowd began pelting stones at the college, which is why we resorted to lathi charge. Several members of the crowd were detained. Saleem has been booked for attempted suicide, while we are rounding up a few for vandalising the college property," the Commissioner said.
Exam aspirants hailing from Andhra Pradesh had been allotted the centre in Bengaluru’s Peenya area. Even though many of them begged the KRV activists to allow them to write the test, the centres remained shut.
"I have come all the way from Andhra Pradesh, but they did not care that our career is at stake. We begged them to let us write the test but they did not. Some of them tore up the hall tickets and informed us that we will not be able to write exams," said Gayatri Devi, an IBPS aspirant.
Similar protests were carried out in Raichur, Kolar Gulbarga and Mandya districts.
"This exam is conducted for clerical-level postings in grameena banks. Most of the customers of these banks are Kannada-speakers. How can they select candidates who do not know Kannada?" questioned T Narayanagowda, President of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike.
Narayanagowda says that there was no problem until 2014, as the 3000-odd postings were limited to those from Karnataka alone.
"In 2014, they made it an all-India exam. How can they do this? There are only 3,000-odd jobs which, in all practicality, requires the candidates to know Kannada. Now they have scrapped that rule. How can they impose other languages on us?" he said, adding that the Vedike will intensify its protests if the government does not find a quick solution.