A look at the top updates on protests against the Agnipath scheme:
- As protests intensified against the government’s new military recruitment scheme Agnipath, political strategist Prashant Kishor on Sunday criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United). The ruling alliance partners have targeted each other after thousands of men burnt train coaches, damaged public property and ransacked offices in the state over the last few days. “For Agnipath, there should be agitation, not violence and sabotage,” Kishore said in a tweet. “The people of Bihar are bearing the brunt of the conflict between JDU and BJP. Bihar is burning and the leaders of both the parties are busy sparring and counter-alleging each other instead of solving the matter.”
- On Saturday, Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal, whose house and business establishment in his home town Bettiah in West Champaran district was attacked, blamed the JD(U) for vandalism. “Targeting people at the behest of the administration and torching offices of a particular party with police as mute spectators are unacceptable,” he said. The BJP leader also warned that if such incidents continue to happen, then it will not be good for anyone.
- JD(U) National President Lalan Singh said the BJP had not consulted the party before announcing the new hiring plan, The Indian Express reported. “They don’t realise a simple thing: that BJP leaders are being targeted because the party heads the government at the Centre,” he added. “In BJP-ruled states, why didn’t they get the police to fire [to curb protests]? Jaiswal seems to have lost his mental balance.”
- At a press conference on Sunday, Lieutenant General Anil Puri, additional secretary with the Department of Military Affairs, said the Agnipath scheme will be implemented and there is no question of a rollback. He also said that those applying have to give an undertaking that they were not part of any protest or arson that erupted across the country.
- Puri also said the Centre did not offer concessions for those who will serve under the scheme because of widespread protests. He insisted that the concessions were already planned.
- The Eastern Railway on Sunday cancelled or rescheduled several trains connecting Kolkata and other places in West Bengal with northern parts of the country due to the unrest, PTI reported.
- Congress leaders sat on a “Satyagraha” at Jantar Mantar in Delhi in solidarity with the youth protesting against the government scheme. “There is no bigger patriot than you,” Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra told the aspirants for posts in the armed forces. “I want to tell you, open your eyes and recognise the fake nationalists and fake patriots. The entire country and the Congress are with you in your struggle.”
- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin also opposed the Agnipath scheme, saying it was against nation’s interest. “Besides political parties, army officials who had served in national security for many years have said Army job is not a part-time one and that this will affect the force’ discipline and insist that this scheme is dangerous,” he added.
- In Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav asked whether this initiative was similar to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or if there was a “hidden agenda” of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He demanded that the scheme should be withdrawn and urged the protestors to peacefully demonstrate.
- Job aspirants in Bihar urged the Modi government to understand why the country is witnessing unrest due to the scheme, PTI reported. “This government at the Centre has lost the trust of youths who have been demanding jobs,” Abhisekh Singh, a defence aspirant, told PTI. “Our dreams have shattered with the announcement of the Agnipath scheme.”
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