Agnipath: Violent Protest Erupts In Bihar & Other States Over Military Recruitment Scheme


New Delhi: Protests occurred in Bihar and Rajasthan two days after the Centre announced the Agnipath programme, under which troops will be recruited into the Army on a four-year contract basis, as defence job aspirants expressed worries about job security and pension.

Army aspirants on Thursday at Kaimur Bhabua Road railway station in Bihar set the Intercity Express on fire, and ransacked the station platform. Earlier on Wednesday, army aspirants stopped train and road traffic in numerous districts of Bihar in protest of the “Agnipath” programme, news agency PTI reported.

More than 100 young men rushed the railway station in Buxar and sat on the tracks, preventing the Patna-bound Janshatabdi Express from continuing its journey for about 30 minutes.

They sang anti-scheme chants till security officers headed by RPF inspector Deepak Kumar and GRP SHO Ramashish Prasad arrived and told them not to impede train movement, as announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh the day before.

There were allegations in the regional media that demonstrators threw stones at the Pataliputra Express, which passed past the station, although both Kumar and Prasad denied this.

In Muzaffarpur, a huge number of Army aspirants expressed their rage by setting burning tyres on the roadways surrounding the enormous “Chakkar Maidan,” where they gather in large numbers for physical tests required for jawan enlistment.

They were enraged to learn about the new work regulations, which came after two years of “no recruiting” by the military forces despite passing the necessary physical exams.

Many Army recruits marched to the Collectorate, where they handed up a memorandum to the District Magistrate.

In Begusarai, Army candidates, many of them were NCC cadets, staged a rally at Mahadev Chowk, carrying a large banner demanding the cancellation of the Agnipath scheme.

Meanwhile, Tejashwi Yadav, the state’s opposition leader, sent a flurry of tweets expressing his reservations over the much-touted decision by the Narendra Modi administration at the Centre.

The RJD leader voiced concern that Agnipath, like contractual hiring in railways and “lateral entry” in other government ministries, will be used to eliminate constitutionally mandated reservation benefits.

“BJP and Sangh Parivar may use the scheme for providing arms training, at government expense, to its hate-filled supporters and fringe elements,” former Bihar’s Deputy CM said. 

“As a result of the Agnipath scheme, many young men with military training will be rendered jobless at a tender age of 22. Will it not result in a major law and order problem in the country?”, he asked.

With a rhetorical flourish, he also wondered whether the government wanted young people recruited under the Agnipath plan to spend the rest of their lives working as security guards for “large capitalists favorable to the BJP.”

He also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer of 10 lakh government employment by the end of next year, questioning whether the figure “takes into consideration the 19 lakh jobs promised in Bihar” ahead of the 2020 assembly elections.

Ajmer-Delhi Highway Blocked In Jairpur

On Wednesday, over 150 people protested by blocking the Ajmer-Delhi route.

According to Kardhani Station House Officer (SHO) Banwari Meena, some 150 demonstrators stopped the roadway, asking that recruitment into the armed services be done the old-fashioned way.

According to the SHO, the demonstrators were dispersed and the roadway was cleaned, and ten persons were detained.

Defence Establishment Take On Agnipath Scheme

Lt General K K Repswal, Chief of Staff of the Army’s Eastern Command, said on Wednesday that recruiting young troops through the ‘Agnipath’ plan will ensure the availability of a trained pool long after their four-year stint in the armed services ends.

While addressing press at the Eastern Command headquarters, he said, “It’s a trained pool available to you and if the situation so demands, they can be called back.”

According to Repswal, the Army will recruit 40,000 soldiers under this system, and the process would begin within three months.

He stated that for the time being, only male candidates will be sought.

“Girls will also get a chance when the system stabilises,” he said. 

Repswal asserted that the “Agnipath” scheme is designed to transform the Army to make it future-ready, and that it provides for the retention of 25% of each batch for regular forces, and that the remaining 75% who leave after four years will be given preference in recruitment in central armed police forces and the Assam Rifles.

The government introduced the initiative on Tuesday, which would alter the decades-old selection procedure in order to bring in healthier and younger personnel to address the nation’s future security problems.

This year, around 46,000 men between the ages of 17 and a half and 21 will be recruited into the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

“The Indian Army will recruit 25,000 ‘Agniveers’ in the next 180 days and the process for recruitment of the remaining 15,000 will begin a month after that,” Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt General B S Raju informed news agency PTI. 

He also stated that the recruiting campaign will be place in all 773 districts across the country.

(With Inputs From Agencies)


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