The Education Department tasked junior clerks having matric-level qualification with conducting the interviews of the master-degree holders for their recruitment as educators thereby stirring up a protest demonstration here on Wednesday.

The junior clerks remained busy in conducting interviews at the Govt Lady Anderson Girls High School Sialkot, as the selection committee, comprising senior education department officials, meant for conducting these interview, remained absent.

Several candidates reached there after travelling from far-flung areas of Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial and Pasrur tehsils, protested against the conducting of their interviews by the junior clerks. They termed it great departmental apathy and injustice with them by the department. Several female candidates refused to be interviewed by the clerks.

Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) Sialkot has also expressed grave concern over the situation. PTU President M Asghar criticised the department over the issue. The PTU also urged the Punjab chief minister to ensure strict departmental probe against the officials.

Earlier, thousands of male and female candidates suffered great ordeal in finding out their names in the lists of the candidates eligible for interviews due to negligence of the Education Department.

The process of recruitment of educators was found full of flaws due to the mismanagement by the district administration. In addition, the administration did not make sufficient arrangements to accommodate the visiting candidates there at the center established for conducting interviews of the candidates.

Massive traffic jam was also witnessed on the city roads as vehicles were wrongly parked on the roads around the centre by the candidates or their relatives. They criticised the administration for making only one centre for conducting interviews instead of accommodating the candidates at local level.

Moreover, they disclosed, their application forms with complete documents have been misplaced by the officials of Sialkot Education Department due to which they remained unable to give their interviews.

When contacted, officials at DO (Elementary) offices confirmed the misplacing of hundreds of forms of applicants. The perturbed candidates remained unable to find out their names in the lists of the eligible and ineligible candidates as they thronged the offices of DCO and District Monitoring Officer for getting relief but the officials were found absent.

As a result, they chanted slogans against the administration, demanding new schedule of the interviews and redressal of their grievances. When contacted, DMO Muhammad Aamir did not attend his mobile phone despite the repeated calls made by this correspondent.

DOC Malik Abid Hussain Awan held the Education Department responsible for the convenience. On the other hand, a spokesman of Sialkot EDO (Education) office said that the interviews of affected candidates would be conducted at the same venue on Wednesday.

The candidates expressed grave concern over the situation, and urged the Punjab government to look into the matter and ensure conducting of their interviews at tehsil level instead of district level. Earlier, the department had announced to recruit male and female educators. There were around 900 vacant seats for which more than 17,000 candidates had applied after qualifying their NTS tests.