Agnipath protest in several states: Top 10 developments
The Agnipath scheme, announced on Tuesday, seeks to recruit soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force on a short-term contract of four years with a monthly salary of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000.
CHENNAI: Protest against the Centre’s Agnipath recruitment scheme continued in several parts of the country for the third day on Friday. The protests which started in Bihar has now spread to Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. With the protests being continued, Secunderabad railway station was vandalised and a train was set ablaze by agitators in Telangana. Yamuna expressway in UP was also blocked.
The Agnipath scheme, announced on Tuesday, seeks to recruit soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force on a short-term contract of four years with a monthly salary of Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000. The central government says the scheme aims to bring down the average age of personnel and reduce pension expenditure. However, several defence aspirants, military veterans and opposition leaders have raised reservations over the revamped process. They say that the new scheme can potentially affect the future of serving personnel, hit the professionalism, ethos and fighting spirit of the forces and possibly lead to militarisation of civil society.
The key developments protests against the Agnipath – military recruitment scheme, as follows.
1) The protest intensified when unidentified miscreants went on the rampage at the Secunderabad Railway station here, setting on fire a parcel coach of a passenger train.
The agitators shouted slogans against the Centre demanding normal recruitment of army jobs, South Central Railway sources said.
The agitators, numbering about 300-350, pelted stones and set a parcel coach of a passenger train on fire, they said.
2) Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Friday attacked the government over the Agnipath scheme, saying the BJP dispensation requiring to amend rules under the scheme soon after its announcement indicates it was imposed on the youth in "haste", and demanded its immediate withdrawal.
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3) Rahul Gandhi criticised the Agnipath scheme and Modi Government. On his Twitter post, he said, “Agnipath - youth rejected, agricultural law – farmers rejected, demonetization - economists denied, GST - traders rejected. The Prime Minister does not understand what the people of the country want because he does not hear anything except the voice of his 'friends'.”
4) The Centre's decision to increase the upper age limit for joining the Agnipath scheme for recruitment in defence services will benefit a large number of youth, Home Minister Amit Shah said.
5) Following violent protests in Palwal, the Haryana government has suspended mobile internet and SMS services for 24 hours in Ballabhgarh area of Faridabad district as a precautionary measure.
6) Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait opposed the scheme, saying a countrywide movement is needed to stall it.
7) The government on Thursday increased the upper-age limit for recruitment under the "Agnipath" scheme to 23 years from 21 years for the year 2022 amid widespread protests against the new model for enrolment of soldiers into the three services.
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8) ) A 23-year-old youth committed suicide in a room in his paying guest accommodation in Haryana's Rohtak on Thursday, a police official said. When asked that some reports said he was aspiring to join the Army and had some apprehensions about the Centre's "Agnipath" scheme for recruitment to the armed forces, the police official said, "Nothing of that sort has come to the fore during investigation so far."
9) The AAP alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has "betrayed" the country's youth with the announcement of Agnipath' scheme, and demanded that the decision be withdrawn.
10) Raising slogans 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and 'Agnipath Vapas Lo', youths protesting set an empty train on fire and vandalised a few other trains here, prompting the police to lathicharge them.