The Railways on Saturday canceled 369 trains, causing inconvenience to the passengers. A day earlier too, the Railways had to cancel more than 200 trains due to protests. The movement against ‘Agneepath’ also spread to southern states including Karnataka and Kerala where candidates did ‘push-ups’ on the streets at some places to register their protest against the scheme.
Terming the Centre’s ‘Agneepath’ scheme for recruitment in the armed forces as “directionless”, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said her party promises a struggle to get it back. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also demanded withdrawal of Agneepath Recruitment Scheme and said that candidates who have cleared the physical test in the last two years must get a chance to appear in the written test to join the Army. He claimed that the Agneepath scheme would “loosen” the combat capability of the soldiers and it would leave the youth unemployed after serving four years in the armed forces and their future would also be unsecured.
Announcement of several concessions and incentives
The protesting youth allege that they will not have any retirement benefits and will be in limbo after the expiry of their four-year contract under the scheme. To allay the apprehensions of the youth, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Defense announced several concessions and incentives that will help them get re-employed after retirement.
The central government indicated that other departments are also working in this direction after several BJP-ruled states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Assam announced various measures to encourage youth to apply under the Agneepath scheme. and assured them of reservation.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur urged the youths protesting against the ‘Agneepath’ scheme to stop the violence and come forward for talks. He said the government was ready to listen to their grievances “with an open mind” and make changes “if the need arose”.
Thakur said at a conference organized by TV9 Media Group that the Agneepath scheme is a “historic decision” taken by the Narendra Modi government to make the country “more secure” in future and provide “opportunities” to the youth of the country. .
10% reservation in CAPFs and Assam Rifles
The Home Ministry announced to reserve 10 per cent vacancies for ‘Agniveers’ in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles. The Home Minister’s office gave this information.
Apart from this, a relaxation of three years has also been announced in the upper age limit.
A tweet by the Union Home Ministry said, “Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to reserve 10 per cent vacancies for ‘Agniveers’ for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs also announced relaxation of three years in upper age limit to ‘Agniveers’ for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles.
In another tweet, the ministry said, “Ministry of Home Affairs has also decided to give relaxation of three years in upper age limit prescribed to ‘Agniveers’ for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles”. In addition, the first batch of ‘Agniveers’ will be given a relaxation of five years in the prescribed upper age limit.’
At present, personnel in the age group of 18 to 23 years are recruited in the paramilitary forces.
Petroleum Ministry also announced for Agniveers
According to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s office, 10 percent reservation for ‘Agniveers’ will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard, defense civilian posts and also in all 16 public sector defense undertakings.
It said that this reservation would be in addition to the existing reservation for ex-servicemen.
According to the statement, “Defence Public Sector Undertakings will be advised to make similar amendments in their respective recruitment rules.” Provision for relaxation in the required age will also be made.
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday that the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) under the Ministries of Housing and Petroleum are working on recruiting ‘Agniveers’ after completing four years of service in the Armed Forces.
He also criticized the opposition for spreading “misinformation” about this new army recruitment system and said the government would explain the Agneepath scheme to the youth in detail.
Despite assurances from the Centre, the protests against the scheme do not seem to be reducing.
The wave of protest is highest in Bihar
In Bihar’s capital Patna, police prevented bandh supporters from forcibly closing shops, but they registered their protest by pelting stones at commercial establishments and doing push-ups on the streets.
Bandh supporters torched Taregana railway station in Masauri sub-division of Patna district and torched a Government Railway Police (GRP) jeep.
During this, there have also been reports of stone-pelting and thrashing of journalists covering the riots.
Bandh supporters vandalized an ambulance in Danapur subdivision and a driver alleged that the mob also thrashed a patient and attendants inside the vehicle.
The railways in the state has suffered heavy losses during the protests in the last three days. More than 60 train coaches, 10 locomotives and some stations were set on fire by the mob.
Earlier, bandh supporters attacked a police post in Jehanabad district, injuring several policemen.
The Bihar government on Friday suspended internet services in 12 districts till June 19 in the backdrop of widespread violence across the state over the issue of Agneepath scheme.
According to the order issued by the Home Department, internet services have been suspended in Kaimur, Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar, Nawada, West Champaran, Samastipur, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Vaishali and Saran districts.
The authorities have also imposed a complete ban on the gathering of four or more people in several districts of the state to avoid any untoward incident.
Various political parties, including Bihar’s main opposition RJD, which is in power in the state, Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular), Congress, Left, Aam Aadmi Party and Vikassheel Insaan Party, have given their moral support to the Bihar bandh.
Protests continue in West Bengal against the scheme
In West Bengal, a group of protesters blocked rail tracks on the Sealdah-Barrackpore route in North 24 Parganas district, disrupting train services for nearly an hour. During this, the protesters also did ‘push ups’ on the tracks.
Police clashed with agitating members of All India Democratic Students Organization and All India Democratic Youth Organization in the afternoon for trying to block roads near Hazra area of Kolkata, a hundred meters from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence.
Hundreds of youths took out massive protest rallies in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode demanding early conduct of pending written examinations for army recruitment, triggering yet another demonstration in Kerala, amid the ongoing anti-Agneepath agitation in different parts of the country. .
Army job seekers gathered at Thampanur in the heart of the city in the morning and took out a rally till the Raj Bhavan, the official residence of Governor Arif Mohammad Khan. Holding banners and placards in their hands, these people raised slogans of ‘We want justice’.
Police resorted to mild lathi charge to disperse a crowd of youths protesting against the ‘Agneepath’ scheme in Dharwad, Karnataka.
In Uttar Pradesh, protests were reported from Jaunpur and Kannauj against the Centre’s ‘Agneepath’ plan, and in Jaunpur, protesters torched State Transport Corporation buses and vandalized police vehicles. Meanwhile, police registered a case against 400 unidentified people in connection with the demonstration against the Centre’s ‘Agneepath’ scheme at Kotwali police station in Ballia district on Friday.
Hundreds of youths descended on Yamuna Expressway and blocked traffic for some time in Gautam Budh Nagar, adjacent to Delhi, following which police booked 225 protesters and arrested 15, officials said.
Eight policemen and the driver of a private bus were injured in the violence that took place during the protests in Jewar area, he said.
In Haryana’s Mahendragarh, some youths overturned a vehicle outside the railway station on Saturday.
The youth also demonstrated in Sonipat and blocked the Rohtak-Panipat highway. He took out a march in Kaithal while also performed in Faridabad and Jind.
Agneepath fire has spread in many states
At the same time, a group of over 50 protesters barged into the Ludhiana railway station in the neighboring state of Punjab and damaged property.
Youth protests in many parts of Rajasthan continued for the fourth day on Saturday. Some protesters blocked the Jaipur-Delhi highway in Alwar district.
According to the police, when the policemen tried to disperse the protesting youth, some people broke the windows of the bus. Youth opposing the Centre’s plan gathered on the national highway at Behror and blocked the road.
A similar demonstration took place in Jhunjhunu, where protesters tried to block a roadway and railway track in Chirawa. However, the police removed the protesters present there.
Youth also demonstrated against the scheme in Jaipur and Jodhpur.
In Odisha, a youth aspiring for a job in the Army ran 60 km in Nabarangpur, while a large number of agitators sat on a dharna near the Revenue Divisional Commissioner’s office at Berhampur in Ganjam district.
In Jharkhand, protests were held at Morabadi and Dhanbad in Ranchi, while security was beefed up with deployment of RAF personnel at the state BJP headquarters as a precautionary measure, officials said.
Launching the scheme on Tuesday, the government had said youth in the age group of seventeen-and-a-half years to 21 years would be inducted for a four-year term, while 25 per cent of them would be inducted into regular service later.
The youth to be recruited under the new scheme will be called ‘Agniveer’. One of the major objectives of this scheme is to reduce the average age of military personnel and cut the rising salary and pension bill.
The new scheme has been announced in the backdrop of the army recruitment process which has been stalled for more than two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.