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Violent protests continue across nation against ‘Agneepath’ scheme

The agitators set afire the trains at Telangana station in the twin city of Secunderabad while people in Patna disrupted rail and road traffic. The protesters also set the Bhagalpur-New Delhi Vikramshila Express and Jammu Tawi-Guwahati Express trains on fire.

Sharbani Banerjee | New Delhi |

Violent protests continued across nation even on Friday over the Central government’s recently announced ‘Agneepath’ scheme for recruitment in armed forces.

From damaging public property to burning the trains, to blocking the roads, protests were seen across Bihar, Hyderabad, Ballia, Varanasi, Mathura and many other places. The youth pelted stones and damaged public properties at various places.

The agitators set afire the trains at Telangana station in the twin city of Secunderabad while people in Patna disrupted rail and road traffic. The protesters also set the Bhagalpur-New Delhi Vikramshila Express and Jammu Tawi-Guwahati Express trains on fire.

The Central railways have called upon emergency meeting claiming a damage of over Rs 20 crore, said the sources.

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.

Besides, 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,” said the eyewitness.

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.

Meanwhile, 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.

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

According to Kewal Kishore, a 16 year old job aspirant, “Joining Army under Agnipath  scheme is suicidal for youths”.

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.”

Meanwhile, MP from BJP Varun Gandhi tweeted that even the government gets an opportunity to work for five years, then why country’s youth get just four years of service.

In a letter to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Gandhi said the young population has shared their questions and doubts with him about the radical changes in the soldiers’ recruitment process which also proposes that the 75 per cent of the recruits under the scheme will retire after four years of service without pension.

As 75 per cent of soldiers will become “unemployed” after four years and their total numbers will keep rising every year, it will give a rise to more disaffection among the youth, Gandhi said.

Reacting over the scheme, BSP supremo Mayawati said, “They believe that the government is limiting the soldiers’ tenure to four years in order to eliminate pension benefits in the army and government jobs, which is grossly unfair and deleterious to the future of rural youth and their families.”

Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Rahul Gandhi termed it an “uncalled for” move that too at the time when India is facing threats on two fronts.

Gandhi Tweeted, “When India faces threats on two fronts, the uncalled for Agnipath scheme reduces the operational effectiveness of our armed forces.”

As per Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav such training and then left unemployed after four years might lead to law-and-order issue.

“Under the Agnipath scheme a large population which is trained in using arms will get unemployed at the age of 22 years after serving for a temporary short period. Will it not lead to a law-and-order situation in the country?” he said.

Senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Wednesday lashed out at the Centre over its Agnipath scheme, saying it neither favours the country nor the youth.

He requested the government to reconsider and rationalise it by ensuring permanent jobs to soldiers who complete their four-year term in the armed forces.

“It has far-reaching consequences and these have not been fully considered while preparing this scheme. In the long run, the policy would have a detrimental impact on our national security,” Hooda claimed in a statement here.