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Last Updated: Friday, 21 November, 2003, 18:10 GMT
Threats hit India rail job drive
Damage caused when radicals ransacked a Bombay railways office
Bombay police survey a vandalised railways recruitment centre
India has put off exams to recruit people to the state-run railways after threats from Hindu radicals.

Thousands of candidates from outside the state have been arriving in Bombay (Mumbai) for the second round of four tests, which was due on Sunday.

But nationalist groups threatened attacks against people from outside the state taking prized government jobs.

This rang alarm bells as clashes over railway jobs have left dozens dead in the northern state of Assam.

There, at least 27 people have died in recent days and hundreds of homes torched.

The attacks have been mainly directed at settlers from Bihar state, who some Assamese believe are taking jobs which should be reserved for local people.

Train passengers from Assam were attacked in Bihar last week, after Assamese youths had physically prevented Bihar settlers from attending job interviews with Indian Railways.

Peace has slowly returned to the region after troops were called out and curfews imposed.

Prized jobs

Activists from the Bombay-based Shiv Sena ransacked a railway recruitment office on Monday in protest against outsiders being among the 650,000 candidates set to compete for 2,200 railway jobs in the state.

About 150,000 were due to take part in Sunday's round of tests for jobs maintaining tracks and wagons.

While these posts are considered among the lowest jobs on offer, competition remains fierce because of the security, pensions and other benefits that come with a railways job.

On postponing the tests, a railway ministry spokesman said: "The government will wait for tempers to cool down and resolve this."

A Shiv Sena spokesman, Kiran Wadwikar, told the BBC that the protests were off now the tests had been put on hold.

He said his party would have no objection to the recruitment process going ahead if four-fifths of the candidates were from the state.

Assam ethnic tension 'has eased'
21 Nov 03  |  South Asia
India passes jobs quota bill
10 May 00  |  South Asia

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