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Agnipath Scheme: What Unfolded at the Protest in Central Delhi?

The protest began as a condolence meet for a youth who died by suicide in Rohtak due to unemployment.

Updated
India
5 min read
Agnipath Scheme: What Unfolded at the Protest in Central Delhi?
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On 16 June, Yuva Halla Bol (a youth movement that focuses on education, unemployment and healthcare) had given a call for a protest against the Agnipath Recruitment scheme introduced by the Centre.

Later that evening, 11 members of Yuva Halla Bol, including the national president Anupam, national working president Govind Mishra, general secretaries Rishav Ranjan and Prashant Kamal among others were detained from Connaught Place in Delhi and taken to Mandir Marg Police Station where they were arrested late night.

On 17 June, their bail plea was rejected and all protestors were taken to Tihar Jail for one day of judicial custody.

On 18 June, all the 11 arrested protestors were presented before the Magistrate at the Mandir Marg police station after which, a conditional bail was granted to them.

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This reporter spoke to Anupam while he was being taken back to Tihar Jail.

“I was the first one to write a letter to defence minister Rajnath Singh. And I have done that twice. We have been raising our voice on the Agnipath scheme since the very beginning. This is why they have been trying to intimidate us,” he said.

“If we are put in jail, it will be easier for them to present this movement as a move of the opposition,” he added.

‘16 June Protest Was a Condolence Meet’

Protests against the Centre's Agnipath recruitment plan, have been going on the past few days, with states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana witnessing the greatest intensity. One person was killed in the violence in Secunderabad in Telangana.

However, the stir hadn’t quite hit the national capital and the protest by Yuva Halla Bol was a bit of an exception in this regard.

According to Yuva Halla Bol, their protest call on 16 June was just for a condolence meet in regards to the youth who died by suicide due to unemployment. There were hardly 20 protestors with candles, and the number of police officials in the area seemed to be more than the protesting youth.

(Anupam, the president of Yuva Halla Bol)

(Hrishi Raj Anand/The Quint)

On 16 June, 23-year-old Sachin Lathar from Rohtak died by suicide after being mentally disturbed as he was preparing for a job for the past two years but failed to get selected due to the delay by the government in filling vacancies.

He was the son of an ex-army person and, therefore, Yuva Halla Bol had called for a protest in solidarity with Sachin and other such youth.

What Transpired at the Protest

However, before the protestors arrived, the police had cleared the entire area and told people not to sit at the site. After failed attempts of negotiating with the police, the protestors opened up the poster which said “Rollback Agnipath Scheme”.

In no time, the police started pushing the members/protestors towards the police van, detaining them. While they were being detained, one of the police officials was seen thrashing a protestor towards the van asking him why he gave a byte to the media.

The protestor replied, ”I did not give any byte to media, I was simply standing there.” Eleven members of the organisation were taken to Mandir Marg Police Station at about 7 pm on 16 June.

(Rishav Ranjan and Akash Mahto of Yuva Halla Bol) 

(Hrishi Raj Anand/The Quint)

From the Mandir Marg police station, Prashant Kamal, National General Secretary of Yuva Halla Bol released a video saying, “We are not being released. We didn’t assemble in huge numbers or damage any public property, yet we are being detained. Our members were constantly in touch with the officials and we were adhering to their instructions.”

Lawyers representing the protestors arrived at Mandir Marg police station soon after they were taken into custody. Abhinav, one of the advocates said, “They weren’t given food or water. The officials are not even allowing us to enter or meet them.”

The lawyers were initially not allowed to get inside the police station and later were sent to Connaught Place police station to meet the Investigating Officer.

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“At first they said that there was no senior official inside the station and that standing there was of no use”, informed Pranjal, another lawyer representing the protestors.

Later, they were informed about the section under which the FIR was filed: 107 and 151of the CRPC.

When this reporter tried seeking a statement from the police, officials at the Mandir Marg police station, the SHO said,” I am not going to talk about the protestors. Contact the other police station.”

At first, officials at the Connaught Place police station said that detainees were now being arrested after their medical examination. However, the next day, the police officials denied giving any statement. They said that they were not allowed to make any statement.

The media and members of Yuva Halla Bol were denied access to the bail order as well.

When the protestors tried giving a byte to the media, one of the officials standing near the van told the journalists to shut their cameras and said, “You guys are still in custody. Right now, we will not allow you to speak, you can do all the talking once you are released.”

At around 10 pm on18 June, all the eleven protestors were released from Tihar jail on conditional bail.

What is Yuva Halla Bol?

Yuva Halla Bol is a youth movement that came into being in 2018, when the SSC recruitment protests began in Delhi. Rajat Yadav, the national general secretary of Yuva Halla Bol said,” In 2018, we had initially called just for an event that we named Yuva Halla Bol. It was only in 2021 that we formed a proper structure of an organization.”

Explaining how the movement began focussing on unemployment, he said,” When we released a helpline number for the candidates who suffered the brunt of pending government vacancies, we started getting calls from across the country. We soon learnt that this problem was not limited to the SSC exam and that there were several government vacancies.”

Yadav alleged that the government wants to ensure that the protests against unemployment remain unorganised and don’t get proper leadership.

“Putting protesters behind bars is the government’s way of maligning the protests,” he said.

(Hrishi Raj Anand is a freelance journalist based in Delhi. He covers issues related to education, unemployment and human rights)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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