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Nationwide Protests in Response to Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ Scheme

Despite the central government extending the upper age limit for Agnipath’s recruitment programme on Thursday from 21 to 23, protests over the Centre’s Agnipath scheme continued for the third day. Trains, buses and police cars were attacked for the third day in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

According to ANI, a total of 200 train services have been affected due to the ongoing protest, 35 trains across the country have been cancelled, and 13 have been briefly terminated. Gurugram enforces Section 144 and puts a ban on large public gatherings.

Protesters allegedly attacked the house of Bihar BJP President and West Champaran MP Sanjay Jaiswal.
Protests against the Centre’s “Agnipath” scheme spread to the south on Friday as police fired into the air to disperse protesters who rampaged at the Secunderabad railway station. According to senior officials of the Central Southern Railway, the perpetrators set fire to part of the carriage of three passenger trains, and no passengers were injured in the incident.

The North Eastern Railway has cancelled 12 trains and shortened four trains to Prayagraj, Ballia, Varanasi and other areas. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi’s house was attacked in Bettiah.

As a precautionary measure, the Haryana government has suspended mobile internet and SMS services for 24 hours in the Ballabhgarh district of the Faridabad region.

Home Minister Amit Shah said today that the Centre’s decision to raise the upper age limit for joining the Agnipath scheme to recruit defence service personnel would benefit many youths.

In the Begusarai district, youths blocked Rajbara Gumti Road. Trains have been disrupted as agitated protesters choose to sit on the tracks to voice their concerns. Roads were also blocked in many places. During the protest, a tire was burned on the rails.

Similar violence took place in the Lakhisarai area. Many protesters marched together in the district against the central government’s plans. The students set fire to the Sahebpurkamal railway station in the district and caused a great deal of tension by throwing stones.

Huge crowds gathered in the Chhapra, Jehanabad, Munger and Nawada districts of Bihar to demand the withdrawal of the Agnipath plan. A group of aspiring soldiers protested at Bhabua Road railway station and blocked the tracks before lighting the train.

People have taken to the streets in Palwal, Haryana, against the Agnipath scheme. Several police vehicles were set on fire, several road buses were damaged by stone-pelting, and National Highway 19 was also blocked. To control the crowd, police fired tear gas shells and fired shots into the air. During the protests, local authorities temporarily shut down Internet and SMS services. It was later withdrawn. Section 144 has been issued in Palwal to keep the situation under control.

East Central Railway informed that nine trains had been cancelled due to the ongoing protests at various stations of the Railway Zone in West Bengal. This announcement from the Railways has come to the fore after a fierce agitation against the Agnipath scheme.

Minister of State for Railways Ashwini Choubey has appealed to the protesters to maintain peace after the train arson incident. According to the Ministry of Railways, demonstrations are going on in 24 different parts of the railway. Also, 216 trains were affected.

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