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Agnipath: North Indian states experience protest, violence

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Agnipath: North Indian states experience protest, violence
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Representational (BBC).

On Thursday, the burning protests in several parts of north India led to the cancellation of 34 trains as protestors picked on the country's central transport system. The railway informed that 22 trains alone were cancelled on the East Central Railway.

In Madhya Pradesh's Gwalior, footage suggests that Birlanagar railway station got ransacked, waste bins set on fire, windows of rail cars smashed in, and the control system destroyed. The Delhi-Mumbai route got affected entirely, according to reports.

In Bihar, violence was reported in Gaya, Munger, Siwan, Buxar, Jehanabad and Bhagalpur. Army aspirants reportedly attacked Bihar BJP MLA Aruna Devi's vehicle and torched the party office.

There were protests reported from Jammu Kashmir by army aspirants. In Uttar Pradesh, stir happened at Meerut, Agra, Gonda, Gorakhpur, Bulandshahr and Mathura.

Protests on 'Agnipath Scheme' spread into Haryana on Thursday, where protestors took to the streets, blocking highways in Gurugram, Rewari and Palwal areas, PTI reported.

In the Faridabad district of Harayana, Section 144 has been imposed, and police said rioters would be dealt with under the law. It added that CCTV cams were installed at crucial points, and forces were deployed. Police appealed to the public not to react to gossip-mongering and rumours.

In Palwal, demonstrators pelted stones on a police vehicle and damaged it, while in Agra Chowk, National Highway 19 was blocked. Protesters laid a virtual seize on bus stands and roads in Bilaspur and Sidhrawali in Gurugram, while some blocked traffic at Bilaspur Chowk on the Gurugram-Jaipur highway.

"Due to a local protest, traffic is diverted at Bilaspur Chowk (NH-48). All commuters using this route are requested to take alternative routes," Gurugram traffic police said in an advisory. "Our traffic officials are on the job and ensuring that there is no major congestion. Diversions have been made as and where required," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Ravinder Singh Tomar said. Heavy police troops were deployed to the protest spots to contain the situation. In the meantime, protests at Hodal dissolved after two hours of road blocking.

The new 'Agnipath' scheme is to recruit soldiers into the army, the navy, and the air force for a four-year period, followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits.

Senior Congress leader, who had also served as a soldier, Captain Ajay Yadav, said in his statement that Agnipath is aimed to demean the spirit of forces and cut down on benefits being given to army jawans. "Army is not a profession but passion and life. Our districts like Rewari send 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," he said.

The opposition leaders asked the Centre to listen to the protestors. Rahul Gandhi attacked the Centre, saying that it was not showing any respect to the army. Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav, Aam Aadmi Party head Arvind Kejriwal etc. criticised the Centre.

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TAGS:Rahul GandhiUttar PradeshDelhiMumbaiBiharAkhilesh YadavMadhya PradeshIndian RailwayHaryanaArvind KejriwalAgnipathEast Central railway
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