Agnipath Scheme: Protests in Bihar, UP, Gurgaon; Army aspirants voice concern over job security, pension

On Thursday morning, huge crowds assembled in Nawada to protest the scheme, and gathered around a fire pit while shouting slogans

Agnipath Scheme: Protests in Bihar, UP, Gurgaon; Army aspirants voice concern over job security, pension

NH Web Desk

Thousands of youths assembled at the Jahanabad railway station on Patna-Gaya rail route on Thursday and blocked the tracks as protests against the Centre's Agnipath scheme entered day two in Bihar.

Demanding rollback of the scheme and recruitment under normal process, the agitators also blocked Patna-Gaya road route.

At the Jahanabad railway station, the agitating students blocked the Patna-Gaya passenger train. The railway officials, along with district police, attempted to placate them and requested them to leave the railway track to restore transportation on the route.

Besides, a large number of protestors also assembled at Kako Mor on Patna Gaya main road and burnt tyres. They raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh accusing them of "compromising" the youths' future.

Many of them alleged that the Centre was not hiring 'Agniveers' but "Bali Ka Bakra" (Scapegoats) for four years.

The agitating students set a coach of intercity express at Bhabua road railway station afire in Kaimur districts. They threw a burning tyre in the intercity express after passengers deboarded.

In Nawada, the protestors burnt tyres on Nawada railway station and on busy Prajatantra Chowk. Due to massive protests, the traffic on the Gaya-Keul rail section was also disrupted.

In Nawada, the vehicle of BJP MLA Aruna Devi, who was on her way to a court, was attacked by the agitators who hurled stones at her car, leaving five persons, including the legislator, injured.

"The protesters seemed to have been provoked by the sight of the party flag, fitted on my car, which they tore. My driver, two security guards and two personal staff members have sustained injuries," the MLA told reporters, adding that she was "too shaken" to have registered a police complaint.

Railway property bore the brunt of the protesters as stationary bogeys were set on fire at Bhabhua and Chhapra stations and window panes of compartments smashed at many places.

News agency ANI quoted a protestor as saying, "We demand that the recruitment be done as it used to be done earlier,Tour of Duty (ToD) be rolled back & exams be held as earlier. Nobody will go to Army just for 4 yrs."

The Howrah-Gaya express was also stopped at Warsaliganj railway station. Several trains on this route were also stopped at several stations.

Incidents of stone pelting were also reported from Arrah.

Earlier on Wednesday, a large number of youths demonstrated in Muzaffarpur and Buxar districts of the state and disrupted road and rail traffic.

Another protestor from Bihar's Jehanabad also told ANI, "Where will we go after working for only 4 years?... we will be homeless after 4 years of service. So we have jammed the roads; the country's leaders will now get to know that people are aware."

In Uttar Pradesh, protests began in some districts of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday against the 'Agnipath' recruitment scheme of the Central government.

Students blocked the GT road in Bulandshahr and raised slogans demanding the withdrawal of the scheme which allow short-term recruitment in the armed forces.

The district officials had a tough time in persuading the protesters to call off the blockade. The protesters submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate.

In Gonda, the protests were led by students who carried placards and shouted slogans against the scheme.

Similarly, in Unnao too, protests were held with students and unemployed youth demanding that recruitment be done in the traditional way instead of short-term contract.

In Gurugram, hundreds of Army aspirants on Thursday blocked the Delhi-Jaipur Expressway in Bilaspur area in protest against Agnipath yojna, the government's new scheme for short-term recruitment into the armed forces.

The traffic congestion on the expressway stretched over several kilometres. The protesting defence aspirants raised slogans against the PM Modi-led BJP government and demanded roll back of the new scheme.

"The government should roll back the four-year plan. This new scheme will hamper the interest of the aspirants to join the Army to serve the nation," a protester said.

A cop at the traffic police control room also confirmed traffic snarl on the Delhi-Jaipur expressway near Bilaspur.

"Our traffic personnel are on the spot to divert the traffic and pacify the protesters to clear the jam as they have stopped trucks in the middle of the highway to hamper the traffic movement on the expressway," he said.

On Wednesday, in Buxar district, more than 100 young men stormed the railway station and squatted on the tracks, blocking the onward journey of Patna-bound Janshatabdi Express for nearly 30 minutes.

They raised slogans against the scheme, unveiled the previous day by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, until security personnel led by RPF inspector Deepak Kumar and GRP SHO Ramashish Prasad, arrived at the spot and warned them against disruption of rail traffic.

There were reports in a section of the regional media that the protesters had hurled stones at Pataliputra Express, which passed through the station, though both Kumar and Prasad denied such an occurrence.

In Muzaffarpur town, a large number of Army aspirants vented their ire by placing burning tyres on the roads around the sprawling Chakkar Maidan where they turn up in large numbers for physical tests which are mandatory for recruitment of jawans.

Meanwhile, leader of the opposition in Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav, came out with a flurry of tweets sharing his misgivings about the much touted move by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

The RJD leader expressed apprehensions that like contractual hiring in Railways and lateral entry in other government departments, Agnipath will be used to do away with the constitutionally sanctioned reservation benefits .

The former Bihar Deputy CM also alleged BJP and Sangh Parivar may use the scheme for providing arms training, at government expense, to its hate-filled supporters and fringe elements .

As a result of the Agnipath scheme, many young men with military training will be rendered jobless at a tender age of 22. Will it not result in a major law and order problem in the country? , he asked.

He also asked, with rhetorical flourish, whether the government expected youngsters recruited under the Agnipath scheme to spend rest of their lives working as security guards of big capitalists friendly to the BJP .

He also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of 10 lakh government jobs till the end of next year and asked if the number takes into account the 19 lakh jobs promised in Bihar ahead of the 2020 assembly polls.

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Published: 16 Jun 2022, 10:34 AM