Aizawl: On Wednesday, hundreds of college youth gathered at the gates of the Mizoram New Capital Complex’s secretariat building, shouting in unison, “Bang Rawh Se,” (He should resign). The youth had gathered for a sit-in demonstration organised by the Mizoram student apex body, Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) to demand the resignation of the Mizoram Subordinate Services Selection Board Chairman, Ramhmangaiha Ralte.

The student body had accused the MSSSB Chairman of “acting against the Mizo people by selecting three non-Mizos in a recent recruitment”. The recruitments were for the posts of Assistant grade under the Department of Personnel and Administrative reforms. Upto 10,093 candidates had applied for the 35 vacant posts, out of which 4,691 had appeared for the examination and 70 were chosen for the interview. The final result of the 35 candidates that were selected was published on January 13, 2023.

President R Lalnunmawia Pautu speaking at the demonstration

The youth gathered at the demonstration carried placards saying, ‘We want a new chairman’, ‘We want an MSSSB Chairman that loves his people and his land’, and ‘We do not want an MSSSB Chairman that does not protect the rights of his people’.

“This is a vacancy filled in the state of Mizoram, so it is the right of the people of the land to access this right, other people should not take this opportunity away from us. We want that the vacancies in the state of Mizoram should be filled by the people of the state. That is why I have gathered here today with my fellow students,” R Laltleipuii, a student of Government J Thankima college told EastMojo.

While many supporters gathered at the demonstration, there were also citizens who had different opinions. “It was the student bodies who worked hard to ensure fairness and transparency in the MSSSB when it was first constituted. As a result of their hardwork, the board has become fair and efficient, such that even Gorkhas and Chakmas are now getting recruited in the selection process. Is the same body that was pushing for fairness trying to force an unfair atmosphere,” questioned Jacqueline Zote, a resident of Aizawl.

Among other opinions, there was also the suggestion that this should be taken up as a challenge, a journalist who wished to remain anonymous told EastMojo, “The student body should take efforts in a different angle. They should challenge the Mizo youth saying more of them should qualify in these examinations by working hard, instead of organising such kind of demonstrations.”

A few messages and opinion posts were shared on social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp, condemning the move of the student body.

Reacting to the negative comments, MZP President Lalnunmawia Pautu said, “It just shows how diluted their stand is. Even in social media, we have seen comments saying MSSSB has acted fairly, maybe they were fair in previous years but now it has come to this situation. This is our state, so many Mizos are qualified for these posts, so if a Mizo qualifies for the post, they should take them. We cannot buy even one piece of land in CADC(Chakma Autonomous District Council), there is no reservation for Mizos in CADC, no land or any jobs. So, here our state government should give opportunities to Mizos who are qualified. If no one qualifies, then it is a different matter. But this time many of them are qualified.”

When asked if the student body has a demand for a certain percentage of the seats, he told EastMojo, “We do not need to demand for a particular percentage, this is our state, and these vacant posts should belong to us. We know the technical rules, even under higher and technical department there is category one, two and three, one for the Mizos and others for non-Mizos. But this is our state posting and Mizos should fill in the post.”

EastMojo reached out to one of the selected candidates, Dilip Kumar Chakma who is one among the three alleged ‘non-Mizos’ that MZP is protesting against.

“I have been selected purely on a merit basis and as per the recruitment rules of Govt of Mizoram. I have faced an interview for MSSSB CGL as well, but couldn’t make it to the merit list because of my poor marks in the computer paper. I think we are fortunate enough to have such an honest recruiting agency that goes purely on merit. However, it is unfortunate that the chairman is being the target for his uprightness in his duty,” Chakma told EastMojo.

To prepare for the exams, Chakma said he used to study for 4-5 hours a day on a daily target basis, “During my initial years of preparation in Delhi i.e.2018, 2019 and first half of 2020, I used to study 6-8 hrs per day excluding the class hours, and that’s when I made my base strong. After coming to Aizawl, I study for 4-5 hrs only but I was consistent, atleast most of the time. So, apart from hardwork, consistency and perseverance are the main key for being where I am today. I was really happy when I got the result. First of all, it was a government job and being a villager, it is a great achievement.”

Chakma hails from the village of Marpara in Mizoram’s Mamit District.

The MSSSB Chairman, Ramhmangaiha Ralte, whose resignation is being demanded by the student body will be retiring at the end of this month as his tenure will be completed. Formerly a leader of the MZP, he said he bears no ill feelings towards the student body, “I do not have any ill feelings towards them, I understand they are doing what they think is best for the Mizo people. I was once an MZP leader myself, we worked hard for progress in the state of Mizoram.”

Ralte has been a part of the board since it was constituted and believes the board has worked hard to uphold fairness and transparency, “We have attempted to uphold fairness and impartiality right from the beginning. We just implement the rules that have been set by the government. As far as we know, we have taken all initiatives possible to conduct a free and fair examination and result evaluation. We had also taken all steps to ensure transparency and promote healthy competition among the youth. Once the exam is over, we publish the key answers within three days, and if there are any complaints or doubts they can share the same with us. Even if they want to know their interview marks or see their marksheets, all these are accessible as per the government rules. We only act within the framework of the government recruitment rules.”

“For this job, there was a certain set of requirements, one of which was that they should be familiar with Mizo language of up to middle school standard. In the interviews, we made sure they were eligible for this criteria. There is no stipulation that says non-Mizos cannot apply for the post, there is no tribal quota. Regarding the marks, once they appear for an interview we have to give them a minimum 40% and we also cannot give them more than 80%. We were not given access to their examination marks, these were handled by the exam controller and assistant controller. In this particular advertisement, there were 35 posts available so we called 70 of them. Even in the interviews, they were graded separately by the Chairman, the member and an expert, these marks were submitted to the Exam controller,” he said.

He further informed EastMojo that he has no plan to resign unless the government tells him to, “I was employed by the government and if they tell me I should leave my post, I will leave. I will not take any action myself other than what is decided by the government.”

While the state officials under the guidance of the Deputy Chief Minister Tawnluia held a meeting with the student body officials on Wednesday afternoon, the student body plans to continue their agitation until their demands are met, “We will continue until there is a new development, tomorrow, and then on Friday. If there is still no development we will take a statewide initiative,” said Pautu.

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