Saturday, October 1, 2022

As ‘Agneepath’ protests spread, people set train coaches on fire, block tracks

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Protests against Agneepath, a radical military recruitment plan, turned violent today, with Army aspirants disrupting rail and road traffic in several parts of Bihar for the second day in a row. Protesters wielding batons smashed the glass windows of an intercity express train at Bhabhua Road railway station, setting one coach on fire. They raised slogans opposing the new recruitment scheme while holding a banner that read “Indian Army Lovers.”

Police had to use tear gas shelling to disperse a large crowd of protestors who pelted stones at the police at the Arrah railway station. Images showed railway workers using fire extinguishers to put out a fire started by protesters who threw furniture on the tracks and set it ablaze.

In Jehanabad, students pelted stones at police officers, who chased them away to clear the railway tracks where they had camped in order to disrupt rail traffic. The police and protesting students pelted stones at each other in dramatic footage from the railway station. Cops also pointed their guns at the protesters in an attempt to scare them away.

In Nawada, groups of young men set fire to tyres at a public crossing and chanted anti-tour of duty slogans. They also burned tyres on the track and blocked the railway tracks at Nawada station. Images from the scene show a large crowd destroying railway property and yelling expletives at PM Modi.

Many people can be seen doing pushups on the railway tracks while police use a handheld public address system to call for calm.

The tour of duty scheme, Agneepath, proposes hiring jawans on a contractual basis for a four-year period, followed by mandatory retirement for most without gratuity or pension benefits. The new recruitment strategy aims to reduce the government’s massive salary and pension costs while also freeing up funds for arms procurement.

Students flocked to the railway station in Saharsa and pelted stones when police attempted to chase them away to prevent rail traffic disruption. The student wing of the Left Party announced a nationwide student-youth strike yesterday i.e. on June 17 regarding the Agneepath scheme.

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