SHILLONG, Aug 09: A protest was staged by the bonded agriculture graduates in the city on Thursday in demand of recruitment by the state government in its agriculture department.
The sit-in-demonstration was taken part by nearly 100 bonded students from Khasi-Jaintia and Garo Hills region under the banner of the Meghalaya Agriculture Students & Graduates Association (MASGA) held at the State Central Library premises.
The placards displayed by them read: ‘We demand immediate recruitment of all the state sponsored quota graduates who have signed the bond-cum-agreement 2004-05 onwards on seniority basis within a month’ and ‘Is stopping the bond a gateway to nepotism’.
“It is with deep regret we are compelled to take out this protest since the state government has failed to conduct any recruitment for the past 10 years,” MASGA president Baiarbor Nongbri said at the sidelines of the one-day protest.
He said that due to this, a total of 180 bonded students who are B.Sc Agri graduates from 2008 onwards were deprived of their rights to get employment in the agriculture department even after having completed the four-year course.
Nongbri informed that as per the reply received from the department on the RTI filed by the association in 2015, there were 57 vacancies in the agriculture department but yet no recruitment was conducted.
“We feel that the state government has really neglected us despite of the fact that we have signed and adhered to the conditions of the bond-cum-agreement,” he said while adding despite several requests made in the past nothing was done on this regard.
Stating that some of the students are nearly over age due to the delay, Nongbri said, “We therefore decided to serve a one-month deadline to the government to recruit all the bonded students on seniority basis.”
The bond-cum-agreement signed between the government and the students clearly stated: “…that on such completion he/she should serve the department for a minimum period of 5 years in case their services are required by the government failing which they would forfeit the surety bond to be executed by them.”
On the other hand, a member of the association, Achin Kharmudai said, “We wonder how is it possible for the department not to make fresh recruitment when we know every year somebody is retiring.”
The association president said that the delegation has also met the Agriculture Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh, who has assured to address the grievances within a month’s time.
Later while reacting to a query on the matter, the agriculture minister admitted that there is shortage of manpower in the department.
“There are 87 vacancies in the department but we could not fill up these posts as there was an appeal filed before the Court against the advertisement published by the department. However, we have decided to take steps to fill up these vacancies,” he said.
On the allegation made by the students, Lyngdoh however said, “I was informed that the clause in the bond related to the recruitment has been done away with since 2014.”
The minister further said that he would immediately convene a meeting with the officials of the department tomorrow even as he informed he had earlier given three months time to Commissioner & Secretary to submit a report on the matter.