Mob set trains on fire in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar this morning as the protests over the new military recruitment policy, Agnipath, entered the third consecutive day today. The government has defended the scheme, calling it “transformative”.
Trains were set afire, public and police vehicles attacked in both states for the third consecutive day today amid protests against the new recruitment scheme that has set off a firestorm
Hundreds of policemen and railway force personnel pushed coaches away from the burning section of a train, set on fire by ‘Agnipath’ protesters, in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia district this morning.
After vandalising the train, the mob also damaged railway station property, before the police used force to disperse them.
The Ballia police chief said they managed to disperse the mob after talking with them.
Another group of protesters carrying sticks argued with the police on the streets outside the railway station in the eastern UP district.
Videos of the protest show young men with lathis breaking shops and benches at the railway station.
“The police managed to stop the mob from large-scale damage. We will act against the men,” Ballia District Magistrate Saumya Agarwal told reporters. Ballia Police chief Raj Karan Nayyar said they are checking the videos of the protest to identify the men. “We will find them and take action,” Mr Nayyar said.
Today’s protest comes a day after army aspirants disrupted rail and road traffic in several parts of Bihar. The protest had spread to Haryana and UP, too.
Phone internet and SMS have been snapped for 24 hours in Haryana’s Palwal district following stone-pelting and violence by protesters.
Agnipath proposes the recruitment of jawans on contract for a four-year period followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits. The new plan aims to cut down the government’s massive salary and pension bills and free up funds to buy arms.
The government has raised the age limit for Agnipath recruitment to 23 from 21 as a one-time waiver following the protests.
The government has also put out a 10-point defence of the scheme and assured recruits they will not find themselves in the lurch after completing their four years in the military.