Agnipath scheme: Protests spread across country; cracks in Bihar NDA as youths go on warpath

In many parts of MP, Haryana, Himachal, Punjab and Delhi thousands of youths protested against the scheme announced by the Modi govt which seeks to recruit youths in the armed forces for just 4 years

Representative Photo (Twitter/@krishanKTRS)
Representative Photo (Twitter/@krishanKTRS)

NH Political Bureau

The Agnipath scheme – the recently announced short-term recruitment policy for the armed forces has enraged unemployed youths across India.

Within two days of the announcement, lakhs of youths, defence jobs aspirants, students and those still waiting for the joining letter in the armed forces have hit the streets in various parts of the country, demanding rollback of the scheme.

The protest against ‘the four-years job guarantee scheme’ started from Bihar – where NDA is in power – but soon spread to other parts of the country.

While a train was burnt down in Kaimur district of Bihar, stone pelting took place in Uttar Pradesh.

In several parts of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Delhi thousands of youths protested against the scheme announced by the Modi government which seeks to recruit youths in the armed forces for just four years.

Youths and students demanded roll back of the scheme. Hundreds of students associated with the left-wing student organization AISA were detained by the police at ITO in Delhi.

In Haryana, police resorted to lathi charge to disperse the protesters.

In Himachal Pradesh youths tore apart Modi’s poster in protest, demanding rollback of the scheme.

A resident of Bihar who is still waiting for his appointment letter in the army opined that the purpose of this scheme is to make “poor – poorer”.

The young man who considers himself as apolitical but influenced by Lalu Yadav said, “Unemployment has broken all records of the past…There are no jobs in the public sector and private sector offers meagre salary. The Army was one of the largest employers after the railways. Where will the son of a poor farmer who could not get education in cities get a job?”

“Our demand is complete rollback,” said the youth who lives in Mukherjee Nagar of Delhi.

In the southern part of the country which remained calm in the beginning protests erupted yesterday.

Telangana's Secunderabad railway station was vandalised and a train was set ablaze by agitating youths.

Social Media Convenor of TRS, Krishnan K attacked BJP for spreading fire.

“BJP blunders are spreading across India. This is not of Bihar or Madhya Pradesh, this is in Secunderabad Telangana. We cannot send Bulldozer like you on protestors, you better clean up this mess you have created,” he wrote on twitter.

Not only has the scheme caused unrest among youths which, according to many, can snowball into a major anti-government protests if not contained in time, the heat and pressure generated by the protest has forced NDA allies to recalibrate their position over the issue.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is reportedly unhappy with the BJP was the first to demand that the government should review the scheme.

Bihar watchers believe that the decision to extend the upper age limit from 21 years to 23 years was a fall out of the hardened stand shown by Nitish Kumar.

“The growing protest has the potential to widen and deepen the fault lines existing in the NDA camp. Though the Modi government which thrived on militarized nationalism would not like to lose the battle of perception, in reality it has limited options in its hands,” said the Bihar watcher.

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