Protesters in Bihar attacked the houses of Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi and state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Sanjay Jaiswal in Bettiah on Friday, 17 June, amid continuing anger and unrest against the Centre's newly unveiled Agnipath scheme.
“There were attempts to attack here. They tried to break the lock and enter the house, this is Deputy CM Renu Devi's house,” a local resident said.
Internet and mobile services were also suspended in 12 districts of the state, namely Kaimur, Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxar, Nawada, West Champaran, Samastipur, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Vaishali, and Saran.
The services will be halted for 48 hours, starting from 2 pm on 17 June, officials said.
Jaiswal claimed that he had identified the attackers, adding that none of them were Army aspirants.
"My house here was attacked as part of a planned conspiracy. Stones were hurled and attempts were made to set it ablaze by pouring diesel. A cylinder bomb has also been left behind by the mob which clearly had the intention of blowing up the building," Jaiswal said while speaking to reporters.
He added, "I was myself inside the house and I have identified at least 100 of the attackers. I must add none of them was an Army aspirant."
Renu Devi Defends Agnipath Scheme
Hours after her house was attacked, Renu Devi defended the Agnipath scheme, saying, "Once four years are over, Agniveers will be having a Rs 12 lakh economic package to start afresh. Priority will be given to them for loans, educational courses, and CAPF (recruitment)," adding that the Opposition was "misleading students" and "their goons" are destroying public property, news agency ANI reported.
The anti-Agnipath protests entered its third consecutive day in Bihar as protesters agitated outside the Bettiah residence of Renu Devi.
Trains Set Ablaze
Earlier in the day, in Samastipur district, two coaches of a passenger train were set on fire. A train at Lakhisarai Junction in Bihar was also set ablaze by protesters.
Around 20 bogies of the New Delhi-Bhagalpur Vikramshila Express and the New Delhi-Darbhanga Bihar Sampark Kranti Express were set ablaze in Lakhisarai and Samastipur stations, news agency PTI reported.
Protesters also blocked highways in places like Buxar, Bhagalpur, and Samastipur and burnt tyres.
In the state's Begusarai, students set fire to the Lakhminia railway station along with the ticket counter and the waiting area, as per IANS.
Students were seen protesting since morning in several districts of Bihar. After attacking railway infrastructure, the protesting aspirants have taken to the street.
The agitation ran amok in Chapra for almost six hours on the morning of Thursday, 16 June, when the mob ransacked the railway station and a few important trains, and also carried out arson at a roundabout in the town. The residence of Chapra BJP MLA Dr C N Gupta was also attacked by protesters.
Lakhisarai railway station saw vast vandalism by protesters, as multiple compartments of the Janseva Express were set on fire, damaged railway properties and looted shops, The Times of India reported.
Moreover, two bogies of the Sasaram passenger train were set on fire in Kulharia, with the new Darbhanga-New Delhi Sampark Express also being set on fire in Samastipur.
Meanwhile, protesters also attacked and set fire to the Nawada Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) district office on Thursday.
In Arrah, the police reportedly fired tear gas shells at protesters gathered at a railway station.
Protests were also staged in Nawada Jehanabad and Munger. Tyres were burnt at various places, while in Chhapra, the demonstrators vandalised a bus.
Youths protested by lying down on the railway tracks in Jehanabad and Buxar districts. Hundreds of agitators blocked National Highway 83 in Jehanabad and burned tyres, demanding the scrapping of the scheme.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI, and IANS.)
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