As protests against the Defence Ministry's new Agnipath scheme continue, demonstrations escalated in Uttar Pradesh on Friday, 17 June, with protesters torching a bus and vandalising a police station in Tappal.
Pan-India protests had erupted on Thursday, 16 June, with gatherings in various parts of Bihar and UP, Delhi's Nangloi, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh. In the Kaimur district of Bihar, protesters set fire to a train at the Bhabua Road railway station.
The Agnipath scheme is being criticised for its employment of the youth for a short-term period, which will leave young soldiers in the lurch after their contractual stint in the armed forces comes to an end.
Car Inside Police Outpost Set on Fire in Aligarh
On the Aligarh-Palwal Road as well as other Haryana and UP roadways, buses were vandalised as demonstrations turned violent. Heavy police deployment on the spot dispersed the crowd using force.
When the police tried to stop the demonstrations, the protesters started pelting stones due to which police personnel were injured.
The protesters vandalised a police station in Tappal and set fire to a car inside a police outpost.
Protests gripped the Ballia railway station in UP as well, where demonstrators vandalised station property and a train parked at the site. Visuals showed hundreds of protesters gathered at the station. They were later dispersed by the police.
UP's Mathura also saw unrest on Friday, as protesters blocked the highway and pelted stones in retaliation to police using force.
In light of the unrest, 29 trains in the jurisdiction of North Eastern Railways were disrupted.
The protests also compelled the Railways to cancel several trains and postpone some as a precautionary measure.
Officials said that the protesters erected barriers on the Agra-Lucknow Expressway to stop buses and pelted stones at them while the traffic briefly came to a standstill on the Yamuna Expressway near Noida.
What Has the ADG Said?
Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar in a video address said that protests took place across 17 locations in the state.
"We have received information about protests at 17 locations so far. Some protesters set fire to one coach of a train in Ballia. In Aligarh, hooligans set ablaze the tyres of a roadways bus near Tappal.
Strict monitoring of all the situations is being done," he said. He added that the police were investigating organisations instigating the youth to participate in violent protests.
"There has been news about organisations instigating the youth and trying to ruin their future. We are investigating the case and strict action will be taken soon," Kumar said.
Explaining the benefits of the Agnipath scheme, he added that the 'Agniveers' would be recruited into the CRPF and other police departments after four years.
"The Jila Sainik Kalyan Board and Gram Pradhans have been instructed to inform the people about the benefits to ensure that the kids have a bright future," he said.
The Agnipath Scheme
The scheme allows for the induction of about 45,000 people aged 17.5 to 21 years into the military for a four-year period. Recruitment for the same is supposed to begin in the next 90 days, with the first wave expected to arrive in July 2023.
Furthermore, there will be a six-month training period during which they would be paid a monthly wage of Rs 30,000-40,000 as allowances. Candidates will be able to obtain insurance and medical benefits as well.
Only 25 percent of these troops will be retained after four years, and they will serve for a total of 15 years in non-officer ranks.
The remaining employees will receive a package worth between Rs 11 lakh and Rs 12 lakh when they leave the service, but they will not be eligible for pension benefits.