Agnipath scheme: More protests in Haryana, damage caused in Ludhiana railway station; 369 trains cancelled

Massive protest demonstrations across the country; agitators resort to violence, torch vehicles

PTI

Chandigarh/Jehanabad/Buxar/Gaya (Bihar), June 18

The protests against the Agnipath scheme continued in Haryana with some youths setting a vehicle on fire outside Mahendergarh railway station on Saturday while a group of over 50 agitators barged inside Ludhiana railway station in Punjab causing damage to property.

Police personnel patrol amid protests against Centre's 'Agnipath' scheme, in Patna on June 17, 2022. PTI

The Railways cancelled 369 trains on Saturday due to the agitation against Agnipath scheme for recruitment, officials said.

These include 210 mail/express and 159 local passenger trains.

The Railways has also partially cancelled two mail/express trains, thus the total number of trains affected during the day is 371, the officials said.

A police official from Mahendergarh, which has seen strong protests against the defence recruitment scheme over past few days, said that a group of youth set a pick-up van on fire and indulged in vandalism. A railway engineer at Mahendergarh, whose residential quarter is adjacent to the railway station, said that some protesters barged inside his building complex and damaged office, and a generator set.

In Punjab, a group of over 50 youths, who had their faces covered with a cloth, barged inside the Ludhiana railway complex. As some were carrying sticks they smashed many glass pane and ticket counters, police said. The protesters were demanding that recruitment to Army should be held like earlier.

Some passengers who were to catch a train to various destinations in UP and Bihar said a group of youth suddenly barged inside and started breaking the glass panes.

In Jalandhar, youths took out a march and later held protest. They took out protest march from Rama Mandi chowk to PAP chowk and blocked the national highway and demanded that the Centre should withdraw the Agnipath scheme.

Meanwhile, protests against the Agnipath scheme continued in many parts of Haryana. Youths also held a protest in Sonipat and blocked Rohtak-Panipat highway. In Kaithal they took out protest march while protests were also held in Fatehabad and Jind.

Bihar: Violent anti-Agnipath protests continued rocking Bihar for the fourth consecutive day on Saturday, with agitators torching vehicles parked on the premises of a police outpost in Jehanabad district, officials said.

A large number of protestors gathered outside Tehta police outpost around 8.30 am and started pelting security personnel with stones. Later, they set several vehicles, including a bus and a truck, on fire, they said.

Normal life was affected in Gaya, Buxar and Jehanabad districts, as well as some other parts of Bihar, as vehicles remained off the roads and shops and business establishments were shut, barring those selling essential items, due to a statewide bandh called by student organisations led by Left-wing All India Students’ Association (AISA).

Various political parties, including RJD, Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), have extended their support to the bandh call.

Railways have cancelled several trains to prevent damage by agitators.

The state government has already suspended internet services in 12 districts till June 19 due to massive violent protests rocking the state.

Internet services have been suspended in Kaimur, Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar, Nawada, West Champaran, Samastipur, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Vaishali and Saran districts, as per an order issued by the Home Department.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have also been imposed in the most-affected districts to prevent any untoward incident, a senior police official said.

Thiruvananthapuram: Hundreds of youth on Saturday took out a massive protest march here against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme.

A large number of Army aspirants, who have been reportedly waiting to get enrolled into the defence service, gathered at Thampanoor, located in the heart of the city, in the morning and marched to the Raj Bhavan, the official residence of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.

They could be seen raising slogans against the Union government's new military recruitment scheme and holding placards and banners urging the authorities to withdraw their decision at the earliest.

The protesting youth were reportedly hailing from various parts of the southern state.

An agitating man said they would continue the strike till the Centre rolls back its decision and justice is ensured to them.

"Many of us have decided to join the Army and started preparations for the examination after dropping our graduation studies midway. What will we do if the Centre goes ahead with this scheme? Our future will be in peril. So, we will continue our fight till we get justice," he said.

Violent protests have broken out in parts of the country demanding the Centre to roll back Agnipath scheme unveiled by the Ministry of Defence which is a pan-India merit-based recruitment scheme for enrolling soldiers, airmen and sailors.

Trains were set afire, public and police vehicles attacked and personnel injured as protests over 'Agnipath' snowballed and swept across several states, including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, on Thursday and Friday.

Under the scheme, youngsters will be provided an opportunity to serve in the armed forces as 'Agniveer' for a period of four years, including training period.

Hyderabad: Train services at Secunderabad Railway Station, which witnessed arson and violence resulting in the death of a protester aspiring to join the armed forces, are limping back to normalcy, a senior official of the South Central Railway said on Saturday.

Additional Director General of Police (Railways) Sandeep Shandilya said the situation at Secunderabad station is peaceful and the police continue to deploy addition forces to thwart any untoward incident.

"Situation is normal at the station. We saw some problem at Mahbubnagar railway station. Overall, railway stations in Telangana are fine," the police officer said.

A senior South Central Railway official said train services resumed from the station at 8 pm on Friday and are normal now.

He said security was stepped up in and around the station and passengers with valid tickets are only allowed to enter the station premises.

New Delhi: The Delhi Police has arrested a man for allegedly making an inflammatory speech and instigating youths protesting against the Agnipath Scheme here, officials said on Saturday.

Police said Surender Sharma alias Fauji made the alleged speech Friday morning to a gathering of 50-60 agitators during the protest near the gate of the MCD office in Baba Haridas Nagar.

The youths were shouting slogans to press for the withdrawal of the newly announced Agnipath scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the armed forces on a contractual basis for four years.

The protesters were moved to one side of the road so that the traffic movement was not disturbed, a senior police officer said, adding they were later asked to disperse peacefully.

Later, Sharma, a resident of Asalatpur Khawad village near Daulatpur, joined the protest and started to “instigate” the agitators through his inflammatory speech. He also got into a scuffle with the police personnel there, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Dwarka) M Harsha Vardhan said.

A total of 18 protesters were detained at the spot and they were booked under preventive action, police said.

Kolkata: Train services on the Sealdah-Barrackpore route in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district were disrupted for around one hour on Saturday as a group of anti-Agnipath agitators blocked railway tracks and did push-ups to register protest against the new scheme for recruitment in armed forces.

Around 20 protesters blocked both up and down lines at a level crossing from around 10 AM thus also affecting vehicular traffic, a spokesperson of the Eastern Railway said.

“We love our country, please don’t play with our future. We have been preparing for the army for several years, and now the Centre implements Agnipath scheme. We demand its immediate rollback,” one of the protesters, carrying ‘Boycott Agnipath’ placard, told reporters.

The demonstration affected railway services during office hours, and many commuters waiting at Barrackpore Railway Station reached the protest site and an altercation ensued with the agitators. The protesters were removed from the spot around 11.15 am and railway services and movement of vehicles resumed, a GRP official said.

Around 50-60 anti-Agnipath agitators had blocked the railway tracks at Thakurnagar station in the district for an hour-and-a-half on the previous day.

#Agnipath #agniveers #indian army

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