Massive outrage in Bihar over Union’s ‘Agnipath’ scheme

Protests against Agnipath, a recruitment plan for the armed forces, turned violent Thursday as Army aspirants disrupted rail and road traffic in several parts of Bihar for the second consecutive day.

Baton-wielding protestors smashed glass windows of the intercity express train at Bhabhua Road railway station and set one coach on fire, according to NDTV.

Students also resorted to stone-pelting at Ara railway station in Bihar as fierce protests took place in other areas of the state. Police had to resort to tear gas shelling to disperse a huge crowd of protestors.

In Muzaffarpur town, a large number of Army aspirants vented their ire by placing burning tyres on the roads around the sprawling “Chakkar Maidan” where they turn up in large numbers for physical tests which are mandatory for the recruitment of jawans.

Protests also erupted in Rajasthan as defence job seekers voiced concerns over job security and pension. In Jaipur, around 150 people blocked the Ajmer-Delhi highway on Wednesday.

Agnipath, the tour of duty scheme, proposes the recruitment of jawans on a contractual basis for a four-year period followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits. The new recruitment plan aims to cut down the government’s massive salary and pension bills and free up funds for arms procurement, claims the government.

“We work hard to get inducted into the Armed forces. How will the service be for four years, with months of training and leaves? How will we protect the nation after being trained for just three years? Govt has to take back this scheme,” India Today quotes a protestor as saying.

 “Where will we go after working for only four years? We will be homeless after four years of service. So we have jammed the roads; the country’s leaders will now get to know that people are aware,” another protester asked.