Shillong: The Meghalaya government on Thursday faced protest from graduates, who had successfully completed their agriculture studies, for allegedly not absorbing them since 2008.
The aggrieved agriculture graduates, under the banner of the Meghalaya Agriculture Students and Graduates Association, staged a sit-in on the State Central Library premises here on Thursday and asked the state government to appoint them within a month in the agriculture department.
Nearly 200 graduates had signed a bond-cum-agreement with the state government for pursuing their studies on a government quota. The bond signed between the government and the students stated that "on such completion (of studies) he/she should serve the department for a minimum period of five years in case their services are required by the government, failing which, they would forfeit the surety bond."
They demanded immediate recruitment of all those sponsored graduates who had signed the bond-cum-agreement from 2004-05 onwards based on seniority within a month.
The graduates questioned the logic of stopping the signing of bond with students who pursued their four-year agriculture course from 2014 onwards. "Is stopping the bond a gateway to nepotism?" the graduates questioned in their placards.
The president of the association, Baiarbor Nongbri, said the graduates have no option but to protest since the state government did not conduct any recruitment in the agriculture department for the past 10 years.
They wondered how the agriculture department did not make any recruitment in the past 10 years, despite the fact that somebody retired from service every year.
Nongbri said 180 graduates who had signed the bond where those who had completed their studies from 2008 onwards, but deprived of their rights to be appointed in the department. "Several requests were made during the tenure of the previous government but to no avail. We have signed and adhered to the conditions of the bond-cum-agreement, but the government neglected us," he said.
They met agriculture minister Banteidor Lyngdoh, who assured them of looking into their grievances. Lyngdoh told reporters that execution of the bond with students who pursue agriculture studies was stopped from 2014 onwards.
"It surprised us that in the past 10 years, the past government did not do anything. The graduates should understand that this present government is just a few months old. What did the previous chief minister do, could they not even meet him? This government at least, the chief minister and I as minister have met them, and heard their grievances," Lyngdoh said.
Admitting that the agriculture department lacks manpower, Lyngdoh said that he has called for a report. The minister said there are 87 vacancies in the department.