Agnipath scheme ignites 'fire on streets' as aspirants turn violent
Protests against the Agnipath scheme, a radical recruitment policy for the defense forces, turned violent on Thursday. Protesting aspirants disrupted train and road traffic in different parts of Bihar for the second consecutive day. Protesters with batons broke the glass windows of the Intercity Express train at Bhabhua Road Railway Station and set a carriage on fire.
- Although the new scheme has not entered the implementation phase, officials claimed it will pave the way for massive recruitment in the defense forces.
- Recruitment in the Indian Army and other defense forces has been blocked for nearly two years, putting aspirants into a distressing situation.
- However, the new scheme is facing sharp criticism from certain quarters following some apprehensions over job security.
Protests against the Centre's decision resumed in Bihar's Arrah Railway Station for the second day in a row, with angry aspirants staging protest rallies. They shouted slogans against the new defense recruitment scheme while holding a banner that said "Indian Army lovers." The police used tear gas shells to disperse the demonstrators who had gathered at the Arrah train station and threw stones.
Hundreds of young men attacked the railway station in the Buxar district and sat on the tracks, blocking the onward travel of the Patna-bound Janshatabdi Express for about 30 minutes. They chanted anti-Agnipath scheme slogans after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh introduced it on Tuesday. Some local reports said that demonstrators threw stones at the Pataliputra Express, however, officials disputed the claims.
In the Muzaffarpur town, a large number of aspirants gathered on the main road and burned tires near the sprawling "Chakkar Maidan." The location is significant as it is a venue for the mandatory physical tests for the recruitment of jawans.
According to the police, scores of people demonstrated against the Centre's Agnipath program in Jaipur on Wednesday and blocked the Ajmer-Delhi Highway. They said the protesters had dispersed and that the route had been cleared. However, at least eleven people were detained. Kardhani Station House Officer (SHO) Banwari Meena said the protesters requested that recruiting into the armed forces be done the old-fashioned way.
Aspirants criticized the scheme saying that it will leave them in the lurch after four years with no pension benefit. According to them, recruiting into the Army began after a gap of two years, and even then, their future remains uncertain. They questioned the administration and asked what would happen to their future if they were not kept after four years.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the personnel recruited under the new scheme will be given precedence in recruitment to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles. Similarly, chief ministers of various BJP-ruled states said that these soldiers will be given preference in police recruitment while the Haryana government announced a preference for them in jobs and other works.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Thursday that those who finish their four-year service under the central government's Agnipath short-term recruiting scheme will be given preference for positions in the state police and associated forces. Adityanath also took to Twitter and wrote that the Agnipath initiative will train the youth for service to the nation and society.