Agnipath protests spread to 8 states, youths burn trains, block roads, BJP leaders' property attacked in Bihar

The students are sitting on tracks at several places and they are not ready to go home. Many of them claimed that the Agnipath scheme was suicidal for youths if they join the Army under this scheme

Agnipath protests spread to 8 states, youths burn trains, block roads, BJP leaders' property attacked in Bihar

NH Web Desk

In Bihar, Violent protests over the Central government's 'Agnipath' scheme for recruitment in armed forces continued on Friday with agitators disrupting rail and road traffic and setting the Bhagalpur-New Delhi Vikramshila Express and Jammu Tawi-Guwahati Express trains on fire.

Several organisations have given a 72-hour ultimatum to the Modi government to withdraw the Agnipath scheme or else they will intensify the agitation and call for Bharat Bandh.

Raju Yadav, the convener of Army Recruitment personnel Morcha; Manoj Manjil, Left party MLA from the Agiyaon Assembly constituency and national president of INAUS, Sandeep Saurav, MLA of Paliganj and secretary of AISA Bihar unit; Ajit Kushwaha, MLA of Dumraon; Aftab Alam, Vikas Yadav and many others related to AISA (All India Students Association) and INAUS have given the ultimatum to the Central government to withdraw the Agnipath scheme.

The agitation by the students and job aspirants continued in almost all the districts of Bihar.

In Lakhisarai, the agitating students set the Bhagalpur-New Delhi Vikramshila Express on fire as soon as the train arrived at the platform. The agitated youths asked the passengers to come out from the trains and then set the train afire.

In Begusarai, the agitated students set the Lakhminia railway station on fire. They burnt down the ticket booking counter and the waiting area. The office properties and documents were completely gutted in the fire.

In Bhojpur, the agitated students set the Bihiya railway station on fire.

In Samastipur, the agitators set two coaches of the Jammu Tawi-Guwahati Express on fire in the Mohiuddinnagar railway station located on Hajipur-Barauni railway section.

In Khagaria, the agitated mob stopped the Purnea-Ranchi Kosi Express at the Mansi railway station and demanded the rollback of the Agnipath scheme.

The students are sitting on tracks at several places in Bihar and they are not ready to go home. Many of them claimed that the Agnipath scheme was suicidal for youths if they join the Army under this scheme.

"An army jawan becomes trained in at least a year's time and it takes 5 to 6 years for the jawan to perform duty on the border posts. Under the Agnipath scheme, there is a provision of six months training and deployment anywhere in the country, including on the borders connected to Pakistan and China. Partially skilled jawans cannot survive on the border. It would not only be suicidal for the jawans and also to the entire post," said Raj Kishore Singh, a job aspirant who has been preparing for army examination for the last 5 years.

The agitators also attacked BJP MLA Vinay Bihari and vandalised his Mahindra Bolero SUV. He was on the way from Lauria to his native place.

"Around 200 agitators holding batons in hands intercepted my SUV and smashed the window panes. I have two armed guards but they were helpless. The agitators were abusing Modi Ji," Vinay Bihar told the media personnel.

Besides Vinay Bihari, the agitators attacked the house of Sanjay Jaiswal, the BJP state president in Bettiah city, which is the district headquarters of West Champaran. The protesters vandalised his properties.

The agitators also vandalised the house of deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi in Bettiah city. They pelted stones at her house and destroyed properties.

In Samastipur, the agitators attacked the house of BJP MLA Birendra Yadav. They pelted stones at his house.

Keeping in view the violent protests, a majority of the family members of the BJP MLAs in the affected districts have taken shelter in the houses of neighbours and relatives.

In Danapur, an outskirt town of Patna, the agitators who were marching from Saguna Mor to Danapur railway station attacked on city buses shattering the window panes.

The agitators set the Rajgir-Fatuha Memo passenger on fire at the Fatuha railway station in Patna district. Three coaches were gutted in the attack.

In Rohtas, the protesters set the Sasaram toll plaza on fire. The Sasaram toll plaza is located on NH 19 connecting New Delhi to Kolkata. The police force fired several rounds in the air to disperse the mob.

In Supaul, the violent protesters set fire to Saharsa-Lalitgram passenger train (05516 down). An engine and a coach were gutted in the fire.

Agnipath protests spread to 8 states, youths burn trains, block roads, BJP leaders' property attacked in Bihar

In Indore, Hundreds of youths on Friday demonstrated against the Centre's new military recruitment policy, Agnipath at the railway station forcing cancellation of several trains.

Agitators barged into the Laxmi Bai railway station, raised slogans opposing the new policy and indulged in stone pelting. Heavy police force have been deployed to disperse the protesters and to control the situation.

According to official information, services of at least five to six trains were disrupted for over three hours. Several protesters were detained and security forces deployed in nearby railway stations, including Ratlam, Shajapur, Ujjain.

In Secunderabad, one person was killed and three others injured in the police firing on youths protesting at railway station on Friday against the Central government's new military recruitment policy.

Police opened fire after the protesters went on a rampage at the station setting afire two trains and vandalising the station. The injured were admitted to Gandhi Hospital.

The situation continued to be tense as a large number of protesters remained in the station and on the tracks. The protesters were pelting stones on police while the latter were retaliating with firing of rubber bullets and teargas shells.

The Railway Protection Force, Government Railway Police and city police were trying to bring the situation under control.

Additional forces were rushed to the area which resembled a battle zone. Authorities have cancelled all the trains. With the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) buses also being targeted outside the station, the corporation suspended bus services in the area.

Violence rocked the railway station here as hundreds of youth went on a rampage, setting afire East Coast Express. Passengers ran for their safety. Several bogies were gutted.

Raising slogans against the Central government, the protesters also torched bogies of another train on the station, stalls, display boards and other railway property. They also dumped parcel articles on the tracks and set them afire.

The protesters, who were raising slogans of 'Jai jawan Jai kisan' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' ,demanded that the government scrap the recently announced scheme and continue the existing system of recruitment.

Following the large-scale violence, an alert was sounded at all railway stations in Telangana. Security was tightened at Nampally, Kacheguda and other railway stations in Hyderabad.

Forces were also rushed to Kazipet and Jangaon railway stations as a precautionary measure.

In Delhi, Several students along with the members of All India Students' Association (AISA) on Friday staged a protest over the Central government's 'Agnipath' scheme for recruitment in the armed forces and demanded its rollback.

Holding placards, the students raised slogans against the government and sat in between the old Delhi Police headquarters and the Gate No 5 of the ITO Delhi Metro Station.

However, as the numbers kept rising, the security personnel, including CRPF, removed the protesters from the site.

Several protesters were detained by the Delhi Police.

One of the protesters said they did not want a contract job. "Where will we go after years? Our life and career is at stake. The government needs to take it back," a protestor said.

Meanwhile, the shutters of gate no 5 of the Metro station were downed in wake of the protest.

In West Bengal, wave of agitations against Agnipath, the proposed short- term entry scheme to the armed forces, on Friday.

Till 11 a.m. on Friday, the agitations were restricted to Thakurnagar under Bangaon sub-division and Bhatpara under Barrackpore sub-division, both in North 24 Parganas district.

At Thakurnagar railway station a group of youths blocked the railway tracks, thus disrupting the normal trains service in the busy Sealdah- Bangaon line under Eastern Railway for quite some time. The demand of the agitators was that the Union government should immediately withdraw the proposed Agnipath scheme and continue the normal recruitment process that ensures a jawan a minimum service period for 15 years. The rail blockade was withdrawn after about two hours following the intervention of the police.

The protesters also argued that after going through a process of rigorous training, a service period of just four years and an exit package of just around Rs 11 lakh was not enough.

Another group of agitators started marching towards the ancestral residence of the BJP Lok Sabha member from Bangaon and the Union minister of state for ports, shipping and waterways, Shantanu Thakur at Thakurnagar somewhat the same time. They were shouting slogans and holding posters demanding scrapping of the Agnipath scheme.

Meanwhile, a group of agitators at Bhatpara under Barrackpore sub-division blocked roads and agitated by burning motor-tyres on the streets. There were reported instances of the agitators seen pelting stones towards public vehicles following which the glass window-shields were smashed. While agitating they were carrying the national Tricolour.

In Uttar Pradesh, a mob vandalised the Sealdah Express and set it on fire in Ballia district on Friday in protest against the new military recruitment policy, Agnipath.

The mob also damaged railway station property, before the police used force to disperse them.

Ballia SP Raj Karan Nayyar said they are checking the videos of the protest to identify the men. "We will find them and take action," Nayyar said.

The Ballia police chief said they had managed to disperse one mob after talking with them but another group of protesters, carrying sticks, argued with the police on the streets outside the railway station.

Videos of the protest show young men with lathis breaking shops and benches at the railway station.

"The police managed to stop the mob from large-scale damage. We will act against the men," Ballia district magistrate Saumya Agarwal told reporters.

Roadways buses were vandalised in Firozabad on Friday as mobs protesting against the 'Agnipath' scheme went on rampage.

Youths protesting against the short-term contract scheme in armed forces, pelted stones and damaged government properties.

In Mathura, the protesters also pelted stones and damaged shops and vehicles.

In Ballia, violence continued as protesters, after setting bogies of a train on fire, moved out of the railway station and damaged kiosks and vehicles.

Incidents of stone pelting were also reported from Varanasi bus station.

Additional Director General law and order Prashant Kumar said that the situation was being closely monitored and the police had been tasked to take strict action against the offenders.

In Haryana, Protests broke out for the second day on Friday against the Centre's Agnipath scheme, with some youths burning tyres and several others squatting on rail tracks in Narwana and blocking the Jind-Bathinda track, officials said.

In Rohtak, the protesting youth burnt tyres, while over 40 youths were rounded up in Ballabgarh for resorting to stone pelting at vehicles on NH 19.

The protestors, who were mainly college students, shouted slogans against the Agnipath scheme and resorted to stone pelting near Anaj Mandi, police said, adding mild lathicharge was used on them.

A company of the Indian Reserve Battalion has been requisitioned from Rewari to ensure law and order, they said.

Meanwhile, police have booked over 1,000 people for the violence on Thursday in Palwal district.

Three separate FIRs have been registered in connection with the violence. While two FIRs have been registered in Palwal subdivision, one has been registered in Hodal subdivision, they said.

A spokesperson of the police department said 80 youths have been booked by their names while another 950 are yet to be identified.

An official said that verification and identification of all the accused from video clippings and CCTV footage was being done. He did not divulge further information.

Following the violent protests in Palwal, the Haryana government has suspended mobile internet and SMS services for 24 hours in Ballabhgarh area of Faridabad district as a precautionary measure.

Meanwhile, Section 144 has been imposed in Gurugram district as a precautionary measure; police on high alert, said officials.

In Odisha, protests against the Centre's Agnipath scheme spread on Friday as hundreds of aspirants for recruitment in the Armed Forces blocked the arterial Ring Road in Cuttack and tore down hoardings in Cantonment area of the silver city.

Many among the protestors claimed to have already cleared physical fitness and medical tests for recruitment in the Army last year and were waiting to write the Common Entrance Examination (CEE).

The protests followed the death by suicide of a person who it is said cleared the physical fitness and medical tests during a recruitment drive by the Army and apprehended that it will be cancelled after the announcement of 'Agnipath'.

Police held lathi charges to disperse the protestors and detained some of them, said Cuttack deputy commissioner of police, Pinak Mishra.

The situation is under control and action will be taken against offenders as per the law, he said.

Hundreds of young men gathered in front of the Army office in the Cantonment area on Friday morning and protested against the Centre's recruitment scheme for the Armed Forces. They vented their ire by burning tyres on the roads and raising slogans.

"Why is recruitment under Agnipath scheme for only four years? How can a person protect the nation when his service condition has no guarantee for his social security ? asked an agitating youth.

A report from Balasore district said that a 27-year-old man Dhanajay Mohanty, a resident of Tentei village in Soro police station area who had cleared the physical fitness test one and half years ago during a recruitment drive by the Army, allegedly committed suicide on Wednesday night due to frustration over the Agnipath scheme.

His family members said that Mohanty had received the admit card for the CEE to be held on August 30. But he apprehended that the examination stood cancelled after the announcement of the 'Agnipath' scheme, which proposes the recruitment in the Armed Forces on a contractual basis for those up to 23 years of age for a period of four years followed by compulsory retirement for most of them without gratuity and pension benefits.

They said Mohanty had lost his mental balance fearing his hard work had gone waste and hanged himself from the ceiling by a rope at his home late on Wednesday night.

Before taking the extreme step, Mohanty had messaged his brother and friends bidding goodbye' to them and asked them to take care of his parents, the family members said.

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