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Violent protests against Agnipath Scheme across India

The government meanwhile tried to assuage the concerns raised over the new recruitment plan for the armed forces while keeping a close eye on the situation

Friday June 17, 2022 0:06 AM, ummid.com with inputs from IANS

Protest against Agnipath

New Delhi: India on Thursday saw widespread protests against Narendra Modi government’s newly launched “Agnipath Scheme” that turned violent in a number of states.

The government meanwhile tried to assuage the concerns raised over the new recruitment plan for the armed forces while keeping a close eye on the situation.

About Agnipath Scheme

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Agnipath recruitment scheme for the youth to serve in the armed forces. Soldiers recruited under the scheme will be inducted into the armed forces as 'Agniveers'.

The 'Agnipath' model will foresee the recruitment of personnel below officer rank (PBOR) in army, air force and navy for four years, including six months of training.

 


Protests in Himachal Pradesh

A large number of army aspirants staged a massive protest at the Gaggal airport against the Agnipath scheme of the Central government.

The protests took place ahead of Prime Minister Modi's two-day visit to this Himachal Pradesh town on Thursday.

The police resorted to cane-charge to disperse them. Congress workers, who participated in the protest, alleged that the police used brutal force against the peaceful protesters.

RLP Protest across Rajasthan

The Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) on Thursday staged protests against the newly-launched 'Agnipath' scheme at all the district headquarters and many sub-divisional and tehsil headquarters of Rajasthan, including in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer, among other places.

RLP convener and Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal was present at the Jaipur headquarters where he submitted a memorandum against the scheme in the name of the President through the district administration.

Protest against Agnipath

The memorandum said that while the Defence Minister said that the Agnipath scheme will infuse new energy into the armed forces besides creating employment opportunities for the youth, the truth is that this action plan of contract-based recruitment is not in the interest of the country, its people or the Indian Army.

“So the government should reconsider its decision”, it said.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed at many protest sites across the state, and the police at some venues had to even resort to lathi charge to disperse the agitators.

In Jodhpur, RLP workers were seen raising slogans outside the District Collector's office where a memorandum was submitted under the leadership of RLP state unit chief Pukhraj Garg.

BJP allies too unhappy

After Bihar Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav, another JD-U leader and the party's parliamentary board president Upendra Kushwaha on Thursday questioned the new recruitment policy of the Centre, 'Agnipath'. He said that the Centre should do a rethink over the scheme.

"The proposed changes in the recruitment process of Indian Army, Navy and Air Force should be reconsidered," Kushwaha tweeted.

Earlier, Bijendra Prasad Yadav also said that the Centre should rethink on Agnipath and Agniveer schemes.

"The students are protesting against the Agnipath scheme. In this case, the Centre should talk to youths and their unions. Central government should take suggestions from common people," Yadav said.

Jitan Ram Manjhi, the former chief minister of Bihar and a BJP ally said: "Agnipath scheme is extremely dangerous for the country. It should be withdrawn immediately. I appeal to PM Narendra Modi to withdraw the Agnipath scheme and announce the old process of recruitment."

Violent Protests in Madhya Pradesh

Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior city on Thursday witnessed a massive protest as over 1000 youth vandalised public and private properties, creating panic among the people at railway stations and on the roads. Violence that erupted around 12.30 p.m. from a place named - 'Gole Ka Mandir' reached several parts of the city, including two railway stations creating mayhem for over two-and-a-half hours in the city.

Mobs, in the name of protest against the Centre's 'Agnipath' recruitment scheme, damaged public and private properties at several places in the city. People on roads and at the railway stations had to find a shelter to escape violence.

Agnipath

Protesters not only damaged vehicles on roads but barged into Gwalior railway station and damaged a parked train. The protesters blocked the movement of at least 6-7 trains by keeping wooden logs, tree branches and other railway properties on tracks.

According to North Central Railway (NCR) officials, rail traffic on the Delhi-Gwalior-Bhopal route which connects the national capital with southern and western India, has been badly hit for hours. However, the district police joined by the paramilitary force brought the situation under control by 4 p.m.

Gwalior district SP Amit Sanghi said that a large number of youth gathered at 'Gole Ka Mandir' area around 12 p.m. Owing to that a police team led by Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Vaibhav Choukse reached the spot.

"We tried to stop them there only, and a conversation was going on. Meanwhile, more youth started joining the protest and their number reached around 1000-1200. They started creating violence at several places," Sanghi said.

Police fired at protesters in Haryana

Police in Haryana's Palwal town fired shots into the air to disperse hundreds of violent protesters out on the streets on Thursday to demonstrate against the Agnipath scheme for recruitment to defence services.

Five police vehicles were torched, several roadways buses damaged in stone-pelting and the National Highway 19 was blocked.

Even the protesters pelted the house and office of the Deputy Commissioner with stones. Police undertook a baton-charge and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Reports say Deputy Commissioner Yashpal Khatana got injured. However, there was no official confirmation.

Amid the protest, local authorities suspended Internet and SMS services for the next 24 hours, besides slapping prohibitory orders under Section 144, curbing assembly of five or more people in the town.

Elsewhere in Haryana, the situation was tense in Rewari town with youths blocked road outside the bus stand and pelted stones on the police. Police had to conduct a baton-charge to disperse the crowd.

Trains set afire in Bihar

It was a narrow escape for BJP MLA Aruna Devi after a large number of aspirants tried to attack her when she was passing through a railway crossing in Nawada on Thursday.

Aruna Devi was on the way to district headquarters, Nawada city, to participate at an event. When her car reached the railway crossing of Nawada railway station, a large number of protesters attacked her. They pelted stones on her vehicles. She somehow managed to escape in her car. Her driver however sustained minor injuries in the incident.

Protest against Agnipath

Aspirants agitating against Agnipath, the central government's new recruitment policy for the armed forces, went on a rampage at the BJP's Nawada office and destroyed several properties. Then they set the BJP office on fire. More than 300 chairs, office properties and documents were gutted in the fire.

In Bihar's Gopalganj district, the agitating aspirants set three coaches of a passenger train on fire at Sidhwalia railway station.

In Chhapra, the protesters attacked as many as 12 trains and set three of them on fire. In Kaimur, they set Inter-city Express train on fire.

More than 15 districts across Bihar on Thursday witnessed massive protests and vandalism against the Agnipath scheme.

An agitating student in Chhapra said that the central government wants to push students into the criminal activities as they will have nothing to do after four years of service in defence forces.

"After four years of job, a youth becomes trained in military skills and combat. Once he becomes unemployed, what will he do? He will take up terrorism, criminal activities and even police will not be able to arrest such youth. They will be more skilful in military combat than police personnel," an agitating youth said.

Another youth said:

"Why Agnipath scheme is not implemented on officers. They should also be brought into this scheme and restricted for four years of service."

The majority of the aspirants demanded withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme and start of normal recruitment into defence forces.

Protests in half a dozen districts of UP

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.

 

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