Agnipath protest: Over 600 trains cancelled; Traffic halted in multiple cities

Despite witnessing violent protests after announcement of the recruitment scheme, Indian Army has issued a notification to start registration from July.

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Congress workers stopped the train at Shivaji Bridge in New Delhi while demonstrating a protest against Agnipath scheme

New Delhi: In view of the Bharat bandh call against the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ recruitment scheme, more than 600 trains were cancelled all over the country on Monday. The protesters were seeking roll back of the scheme lauched by central government for recruiting youth as agniveers in military services. According to a rough estimate, Indian Railways has suffered loss of hundreds of crores rupees as protesters have set dozens of trains on fire and have vandalised railway property since announcement of the short term recruitment scheme.

Despite witnessing violent protests after announcement of the recruitment scheme, Indian Army has issued a notification to start registration from July.

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Congress, which had announced Stayagraha against the move, supported the protesters by staging protest at Jantar Mantar. Police detained few of the protesting workers while trying to block a train at Shivaji Bridge railway station. In neighbouring Haryana, several key roads were blocked and traffic movements were stopped during the bandh.  In Uttar Pradesh, peaceful protests took place in several parts. The state police had warned strict action against any loss or damage of public property.

Security arrangement was beefed up in Bihar and Punjab and police of these two states were keeping close watch on social media groups. As per the reports, people were using social media platforms to mobilise people to get involved in the protests. In Bihar, internet services were suspended in multiple districts. In Jharkhand, the law enforcement agency was on alert mode to avoid any untoward incident. The state government had closed schools for one day.

On Saturday, the Centre had cracked down on 35 WhatsApp groups for allegedly spreading fake news about the scheme. The move was taken amid threats to intensify the protests in coming days as the government wanted to stop spreading misinformation about its ongoing move to recruit youths in defence services as agniveers.

Also Read: Centre bans 35 WhatsApp groups for spreading rumours

Moment after announcement of the scheme, violent protests have been witnessing in various states including, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, etc. Since, protests have turned violent, scores of trains, vehicles have been set ablaze causing loss of hundreds of crores of rupees to the government exchequer. The military has suspected coaching centres’ hand in instigating youths for sporadic violence all over the country.

The three services of armed force-army, air force and navy- had ruled out any possibility of rolling back the scheme. The three services have shared details and benefits of the scheme and have also announced dates to start recruitment. The government has also announced to increase upper age from 21 years to 23 years.

According to the navy’s guidelines, a spirant cannot take part in Agniveer recruitment scheme if any FIR is registered against him. He/she will have to give a pledge he/she never took part in any arson or protest.

Also Read: Agnipath scheme: Indian Air Force shares details of benefits for agniveers; To start recruitment from June 24

Earlier, Indian Airforce had announced benefits of the scheme for agniveers. The Indian Air Force has said to start process of selecting agniveers from June 24. With the announcement, Air Force became the first service to start recruiting agniveers since its announcement.

Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, in his address, had said, “Recruitment process for Indian Air Force service is going to be kicked off from June 24. Upper age limit for joining the service has been raised to 23 which will benefit the youths,” he said.

After the Home Ministry, the Defence Ministry had announced a 10% reservation of job vacancies in the Ministry of Defence for Agniveers. This comes amid violent protest by Armed Forces aspirants across the country.

Also Read: Agnipath scheme: After MHA, now Defence Ministry announces reservation for Agniveers

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had approved a proposal to reserve 10% of the job vacancies in Ministry of Defence for Agniveers meeting requisite eligibility criteria.

The 10% reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard, defence civilian posts and all the 16 Defence Public Sector Undertakings – Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDL), Mishra Dhatu Nigam (Midhani) Limited, Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited  (AVNL), Advanced Weapons & Equipment India Ltd. (AW&EIL), Munitions India Limited (MIL), Yantra India Limited (YIL), Gliders India Limited (GIL), India Optel Limited (IOL) and Troop Comforts Limited (TCL). This reservation would be in addition to existing reservations for ex-servicemen.

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