At least 12 trains have been set on fire and over 300 others have been affected – 214 cancelled, 11 diverted and 90 did not make it to their destinations – since the protests erupted on Wednesday, according to the Railways. Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, “I appeal to the youth to not indulge in violent protests and not damage the property of the Railways. Railways are the property of the country.”
The government unveiled Agnipath on Tuesday — calling it a “transformative” scheme– for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force, largely on a four-year short-term contractual basis. Protesters are unhappy with the changes, particularly the length of service, no pension provisions for those released early, and the 17.5 to 23-year age restriction that now makes many of them ineligible.
Other developments on Friday:
A 19-year-old from Warangal has died and over 15 were injured in Telangana’s Secunderabad as violent protests spread to the southern state. Several states like Bihar, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh have witnessed violent agitation over the new scheme.
In Bihar, the house of Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi was attacked in Bettiah in West Champaran district amid protests against the new recruitment scheme that has set off a firestorm. Bihar has borne the brunt of the violence, which began on Wednesday.
In Uttar Pradesh, a mob entered a railway station in Ballia this morning and set a train coach on fire, and also damaged railway station property before the police used force to disperse them. Protests also erupted in Varanasi, Firozabad and Amethi, causing damage to government buses and other symbols of public property. A local BJP leader’s car was torched in Aligarh.
“Pension Wise. Policy Foolish?”
WHO SAID WHAT?
Agnipath se path per agni na ho .This is negligent and potentially fatal for the country’s future. The security of the country is not a short-term or informal issue. The negligent attitude that is being adopted regarding military recruitment will prove to be fatal when it comes to the protection of the future of the country and the youth.
Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party
Recruitment of soldiers on a short-term contractual basis will give rise to more disaffection among the youth. Even the government is elected for a five-year term. It will affect the Army morale. What can be done in four years? Four years of service will disrupt their education, and they will also face difficulties in getting another job or more education as they will be older to others with similar qualification.
Varun Gandhi, BJP
India must do away with British recruitment ways. The scheme is a much-needed reform in the right direction because the Armed forces should not be an employment guarantee programme.
Manish Tewari, Congress
Listen to voice of unemployed. Please refrain from agnipareeksha of their patience by making them walk on Agnipath. No rank, no pension, no direct recruitment for 2 years, no stable future after four years, no respect shown by the government for the Army.
Rahul Gandhi, Congress
Like contractual hiring in Railways and “lateral entry” in other government departments, Agnipath “will be used to do away with the constitutionally sanctioned reservation benefits.” BJP and Sangh Parivar may use the scheme for providing arms training, at government expense, to its hate-filled supporters and fringe elements. As a result of the Agnipath scheme, many young men with military training will be rendered jobless at a tender age of 22. Will it not result in a major law and order problem in the country?
Tejashwi Yadav, RJD
People in the country are already afflicted by rising poverty, inflation, unemployment, wrong policies, and arrogant working style of the government, in such a situation, the uneasiness spread among the youth regarding new recruitment system in the army is causing anxiety. After holding on to the recruitment in the Army for a long time, the Centre has now announced a new recruitment scheme. What good will a short duration of four years in the Army be? It will also be a wasted hidden cost in training all recruited but retaining only 25%.
Army is not profession but passion. Our district, Rewari, sends their sons to serve the nation every year and this demeans their passion. Over four lakh posts are vacant in the army and this cheap attempt to compensate them with small contract employment is unacceptable.
Ajay Yadav, Ex-Army Captain and Congress Leader
The scheme is a “joke” with the youth of the country. Recruiting young men into the Army, to give six-month weapon training and removing them after four years will lead to incidents of gang war. The Centre should withdraw the scheme and recruit soldiers in the Army as before. Does the government expect youngsters recruited under the scheme to spend rest of their lives working as security guards of big capitalists friendly with the BJP?
Hanuman Beniwal, RLP