Railway station, police jeep torched, cops injured in anti-Agnipath protests in Bihar
A railway station and a police vehicle were torched and several law enforcers injured in stone-pelting incidents on the fourth consecutive day of protests against Agnipath scheme on Saturday
A railway station and a police vehicle were torched and several law enforcers injured in stone-pelting incidents on the fourth consecutive day of protests against Agnipath scheme on Saturday when a bandh was also called to press for the demand for rollback of the new scheme for recruitment in armed forces.
In the capital city, bandh supporters were restrained by police from forcing shops to down their shutters, but they registered their protest by performing push-ups on the roads and scampering away after hurling stones at commercial establishments.
On the outskirts, bandh supporters set fire to Taregana railway station in Masaurhi sub-division of Patna district and torched a jeep belonging to the GRP.
They also exchanged gunshots with GRP personnel, engaged in heavy stone-pelting and beat up journalists covering the clash.
"Police and RPF have been deployed in Masaurhi. We have, so far, no information of anybody getting injured in the violence there," RPF DIG, East Central Railway (ECR) S Mayank told reporters.
In Danapur sub-division, bandh supporters vandalised an ambulance as the driver alleged that a patient and attendants inside were also beaten up by the mob.
State police chief, DGP S K Singhal, toured the Patna Junction and took stock of the security arrangements there.
The ECR headquarters in Hajipur said that in view of the prevailing situation, 32 trains have been cancelled.
"To ensure safety and security of passengers and railway property, trains originating in other zones will be plied through ECR only after 8 PM on Saturday and continue till 4 AM on Sunday. Movement of such trains will be restored at 8 PM on Sunday," said ECR Chief Public Relations Officer Virendra Kumar.
Notably, the railways have suffered massive losses in the state during protests in the last three days. More than 60 train coaches, 10 engines and some stations have been torched by mobs protesting the introduction of the new recruitment system wherein 75 per cent of jawans will be retired after four years of service, with no pension benefits. Earlier, bandh supporters had attacked a police outpost in Jehanabad district, leaving several personnel injured. In Munger, shops remained open although bandh supporters burned tyres on roads, amid heavy police presence. A large police contingent was deployed in front of the state headquarters of the BJP, which has been at the receiving end of the protests, with many of its senior leaders having been physically attacked and its offices in at least three districts being set ablaze since Thursday. "We can say that the bandh has had negligible effect on normal life. Barring stray incidents, peace has prevailed across the state," said Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishor Prasad, who is also the party's leader in the assembly.
Large-scale violence in the past few days has led to the suspension of internet services, barring the ones controlled by the government, in 12 severely affected districts of the state. A home department notification said the restrictions will remain effective for at least three days.
Prohibitory orders have also been clamped in a number of towns as a preventive measure.
The bandh has received in-principle support from all opposition parties RJD, Congress, the Left and the Aam Aadmi Party. Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustani Awam Morcha has also extended moral support to the day-long shutdown.
The BJP has squarely blamed the RJD, known for strong-arm tactics in politics, for the violence. However, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's JD(U), partner of the BJP in the state and the Centre, has sought a review of the scheme, and urged the Union government to allay the fears of the protesters.