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Agnipath protests spreads to several UP districts: recruitment to start soon

Agnipath protests spreads to several UP districts: recruitment to start soon
Widespread protests against the 'Agnipath' scheme for the recruitment of armed forces have spread to several districts in Uttar Pradesh.

Bulandshahr, Meerut, Agra, Mathura, Varanasi, Unnao, Gorakhpur, Gonda, Rae Bareli and Ballia are among the districts that have witnessed protests, with youth demanding the scheme's withdrawal.

In several districts, the police had to resort to lathi charge and fire teargas shells to disperse the mob.

In Bulandshahr, protesters blocked the busy GT Road.

"We strongly oppose the new recruitment scheme. We want the old recruitment scheme back," one of the protesters said.

Bulandshahr Superintendent of Police, Shlok Kumar said: "Some youngsters gathered to stage a protest in the morning. They later called it off on the assurance given by police officials."

Ballia was the worst affected district since protesters set bogies of the Sealdah Express on fire, vandalised railway property and then attacked shops and kiosks outside the station.

Job aspirants pelted stones at a government bus in Agra, triggering deployment of additional police personnel to control the situation.

In Firozabad, protesters vandalised roadways buses.

Youth also gathered along the Agra-Delhi highway, seeking the revival of the old recruitment policy in the armed forces. Traffic was blocked for several hours on this route.

Agra Senior Superintendent of Police, Sudhir Kumar Singh, said: "A large number of students come to Agra to prepare for exams through coaching centres. These job aspirants reached here and blocked the road."

In Rae Bareli and Gonda, the protesters raised slogans and blocked traffic.

The Agnipath scheme was announced on June 14 to recruit jawans into the Army, Navy and the Air Force for a four-year period followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits.

Under the new policy, 25 per cent of the jawans would get a chance for permanent recruitment on the basis of their performance.
Recruitment to begin soon
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said the recruitment into the military through the Agnipath scheme will begin soon. He advised the aspirants to begin their preparations.

Calling the scheme a 'golden opportunity' to join the nation's defence system and to serve the country, Singh thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allowing age waiver for the first batch to be recruited through the scheme.

However, the Defence Minister's comment comes amid the protests against the Agnipath scheme which started in Bihar and has spread to several states. The protests against Agnipath continued for the third day in seven states, including the national capital.

"Agnipath is a golden opportunity for the youth to join the defence system and serve the country. As the recruitment was stalled for the last two years, many were deprived of the opportunity to join the army," Singh tweeted.

"Therefore, keeping in mind the future of the youth, on the instructions of the Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi, the government has increased the age limit for the recruitment of Agniveers from 21 years to 23 years this time. This one time relaxation has been given. This will entitle a lot of youth to become Agniveers," said the Defence minister in a subsequent tweet.

"I heartily thank the Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi for his concern and sensitivity towards the future of the youth. I appeal to the youth that the process of recruitment in the army is going to start in few days. They must start their preparation for it," Rajnath Singh tweeted.

Considering the widespread protests, the government on Thursday allowed a one-time age waiver for the scheme considering that recruitment was stalled for the last two years. The upper age limit now has been raised to 23 instead of 21 now.
Police firing on protestors in Secunderabad
One person was killed and three others injured in the police firing on youths protesting at the Secunderabad railway station on Friday against the Central government's new military recruitment policy.

Police opened fire after the protesters went on a rampage at the station setting afire two trains and vandalising the station. The injured were admitted to Gandhi Hospital.

The situation continued to be tense as a large number of protesters remained in the station and on the tracks. The protesters were pelting stones on police while the latter were retaliating with firing of rubber bullets and teargas shells.

The Railway Protection Force, Government Railway Police and city police were trying to bring the situation under control.

Additional forces were rushed to the area which resembled a battle zone. Authorities have cancelled all the trains. With the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) buses also being targeted outside the station, the corporation suspended bus services in the area.

Violence rocked the railway station here as hundreds of youth went on a rampage, setting afire East Coast Express. Passengers ran for their safety. Several bogies were gutted.

Raising slogans against the Central government, the protesters also torched bogies of another train on the station, stalls, display boards and other railway property. They also dumped parcel articles on the tracks and set them afire.

The protesters, who were raising slogans of 'Jai jawan Jai kisan' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' ,demanded that the government scrap the recently announced scheme and continue the existing system of recruitment.

The youth were angry that the government cancelled the recruitment examination for which they had been preparing for the last 3-4 years. They said their protest would continue till the Centre scraps the new scheme.

Following the large-scale violence, an alert was sounded at all railway stations in Telangana. Security was tightened at Nampally, Kacheguda and other railway stations in Hyderabad.

Forces were also rushed to Kazipet and Jangaon railway stations as a precautionary measure.
Delhi students join the protest against the Agnipath scheme
Violence against Agnipath scheme rocked Secunderabad railway station here on Friday as hundreds of youth set afire a train and vandalised the station.

The protesters went on rampage at the station, setting afire East Coast Express, stalls and other railway property.

Demanding scrapping of the recently announced scheme, the youth sat on the railway track.

Railway and the city police were trying to bring the situation under control.

The police also opened fire in the air to control the situation.

The protesters are said to be mostly from the northern states who were in Secunderabad to appear in the Railway Recruitment Board exams.

Secunderabad, the twin city of Hyderabad, is the headquarters of South Central Railway.
Protestors set Bhagalpur-New Delhi and Jammu Tawi-Guwahati trains also on fire
Violent protests over the Central government's 'Agnipath' scheme for recruitment in armed forces continued across Bihar on Friday with agitators disrupting rail and road traffic and setting the Bhagalpur-New Delhi Vikramshila Express and Jammu Tawi-Guwahati Express trains on fire.

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.

Raju Yadav, the convener of Army Recruitment personnel Morcha; Manoj Manjil, Left party MLA from the Agiyaon Assembly constituency and national president of INAUS, Sandeep Saurav, MLA of Paliganj and secretary of AISA Bihar unit; Ajit Kushwaha, MLA of Dumraon; Aftab Alam, Vikas Yadav and many others related to AISA (All India Students Association) and INAUS have given the ultimatum to the Central government to withdraw the Agnipath scheme.

The agitation by the students and job aspirants continued in almost all the districts of Bihar.

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.

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.

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.

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

The students are sitting on tracks at several places in Bihar and they are not ready to go home. Many of them claimed that the Agnipath scheme was suicidal for youths if they join the Army under this scheme.

"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," said Raj Kishore Singh, a job aspirant who has been preparing for army examination for the last 5 years.
Protest in UP’s Balia
The Ballia police, on Friday morning, thwarted attempts of some local youth who wanted to protest on the railway tracks against the 'Agnipath' scheme for short-term recruitment in the armed forces.

District Magistrate Saumya Agarwal said that police forces had been deployed on the railway tracks and the protesters, who attempted to pelt stones, were pushed back by the police.

Meanwhile, train movement at the Deen Dayal Upadhyay station in Chandauli had been adversely affected because of attacks on trains in Bihar by protesters.

According to railway sources, train movement has been halted on some routes while some other trains have been delayed.

(Inputs from IANS)

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