A mob vandalised a train on Friday morning at the Ballia railway station in Uttar Pradesh during a protest against the Centre’s Agnipath recruitment scheme. Police forces have been deployed at the station to disperse the crowd.
“Forces have been deployed at the station since morning. A few hooligans reached there but they were stopped from damaging much; they attempted stone-pelting. Action being taken,” Ballia DM Saumya Agarwal told reporters. Several parts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have witnessed protests over the new military recruitment policy.
Many Army aspirants for the armed forces are unhappy with the changes introduced under the new recruitment scheme, particularly the length of service, no pension provisions for those released early, and the 17.5 to 21-year age restriction that now makes many of them ineligible. Agitations spilt over to several districts in Bihar as youths protested by lying down on the railway tracks and blocking roads, demanding the scrapping of the scheme.
In UP's Ballia, a train set on fire by mob agitating against the centre's Agnipath scheme. pic.twitter.com/9WuwpOgxX6
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Huge crowds gathered in the Bihar’s Chhapra, Jehanabad, Munger and Nawada areas of Bihar, demanding the withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme. A group of army aspirants protested at Bhabua Road Railway Station and blocked the tracks before setting a train on fire. People hit the streets in Haryana’s Palwal against the Agnipath scheme for recruitment of youths to defence services. Following this, the Police personnel deployed at the DC residence in Palwal resorted to aerial firing to warn protesters who were pelting stones at the residence.
Several police vehicles were torched, several roadways buses were damaged in stone-pelting and the National Highway 19 was also blocked. The Police used tear gas shells and fired in the air to control the mob. Amid the protest, local authorities suspended Internet and SMS services for some time. It was withdrawn later. To keep the situation under control, Section 144 has been imposed in Palwal. The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Agnipath recruitment scheme which provides an opportunity for Indian youth to serve in the regular cadre of the Armed Forces for a period of four years.
It aims to make the Army a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the full spectrum of conflict, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande said on Tuesday. The AGNIPATH Scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces and provide a fresh lease of ‘Josh’ and ‘Jazba’ whilst at the same time bringing about a transformational shift towards a more tech-savvy Armed Forces – which is indeed the need of the hour, the defence ministry highlighted.
The selection will be the exclusive jurisdiction of the Armed Forces. A total of 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year. Following the anti-Agnipath protests, the Central government on Thursday extended the upper age limit for the Army recruitment scheme from 21 years to 23 years.