Yogi Adityanath fails to tame the job mafia in Uttar Pradesh

The chief minister who claims to have rid the state of mafias appears all at sea when it comes to holding fair and transparent recruitment tests for govt jobs

Frustrated job seekers waiting for information
Frustrated job seekers waiting for information

Kumar Santosh

Why does Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath look so helpless in reining in the ‘job mafia’ in the state? The ‘Maharaj’ who is said to have rid the state of mafias and dons appears all at sea when it comes to holding fair and transparent competitive tests to screen and recruit employees.

The pattern has been the same. Questions are leaked before or during the examinations, which are then cancelled. Police swing into action and arrest scores of people and charge them under the Gangster Act. The candidates, who had spent a tidy sum for appearing in the exam, return home and wait for the next date to be announced.

When question papers again got leaked last week for the screening exam held to recruit Accountants (Lekhpal) in the Revenue Department, even BJP MP Varun Gandhi tweeted his dismay at the state’s inability to curb the ‘job mafia’. How long would this mafia play with the future of the state’s youth, he asked, pointing out that during the past few years question paper leaks were reported at tests conducted for PET, UPTET, UPSSC, UPPCL and police recruitment.

“The examinees must be right when they allege that leaks are encouraged deliberately by the state,” tweeted Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav. He was echoing the sentiment of cynical examinees who wonder if the state government is reluctant to appoint employees so that it can continue to outsource government jobs and escape paying regular salary, PF and pension.

The suspicion can hardly be dismissed lightly because Uttar Pradesh Police and the Special Task Force (STF) are familiar with the gangs engaged in manipulating the exams. For a sum that may go up to Rs 10 lakh, this mafia offers to leak questions, arrange for competent ‘solvers’ to impersonate examinees and extend help in copying the right answers.

Sources in the STF admit that the kingpin of the job mafia, one KL Patel, was kept under surveillance after he was found to be rigging recruitment tests. His connections are spread all over Uttar Pradesh and also extend to Madhya Pradesh, they say.

They also knew that this mafia was involved in fleecing youngsters appearing for recruitments in the high court and the Railways. And yet, they acknowledge failure to stop the mafia from infiltrating the system set up to recruit Accountants.

Following reports of question paper leak, Uttar Pradesh Police arrested the Principal of Chetana Girls’ Inter College at Prayagraj (Allahabad) Shabnam Parveen, office in-charge Giriraj Gupta and Invigilator Huma Bano besides the son of the Principal and an examinee. Arrests were also made of ‘solvers’ from Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bareilly and Moradabad. They also arrested an examinee from Ishwar Prem Vidya Mandir who was using Bluetooth to copy answers. From Varanasi and Bareilly also the police arrested impersonators from exam centres while appearing for different applicants.

Curiously, while CCTV footage has helped police in arresting invigilators, impersonators and supervisors, they do not seem to have caught hold of the mafia. Yet another strange aspect is that the kingpin KL Patel has been arrested earlier along with his close associates Raghavendra Singh and Shameem Siddiqui. A case against them under the Gangster Act was also registered in January this year. But nothing seems to have worked so far. The group led by Patel was accused of manipulating the exams for the recruitment of 69,000 assistant school teachers.

To be fair, question paper leaks were reported even before Yogi Adityanath took over as chief minister. During the Samajwadi Party government headed by Akhilesh Yadav, even stalwarts like Azam Khan and Gayatri Prajapati were accused of ‘cash for government jobs’ scam.

But the series of leaks during the tenure of Yogi Adityanath as CM since 2017 is unprecedented. Critics of the state government allege that questions of at least 12 major recruitment tests have been leaked during this period. Abhijit Pathak, a political activist with the Youth Congress, points to a survey that claimed that 2.9 million unemployed youth in the state -- 1.9 million of them between 20 and 24 years of age -- are looking for government jobs.

What baffles and frustrates them the most is the failure of Yogi Adityanath of the bulldozer fame in dealing with the ‘job mafia’, he said.

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday.)

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