A look at the top updates on the protests against the Agnipath scheme:
- A total of 587 trains were cancelled on Monday because of the Bharat Bandh call in parts of the country over the Centre’s Agnipath scheme, the Indian Railways said, PTI reported. Out of these, 379 were passenger trains and 208 were mail or express trains. It is not clear which organisation had called for the shutdown but the police in several areas imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, prohibiting gatherings of four or more people.
- Security has been ramped up at several places in Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Punjab, Telangana and Kerala to avoid any untoward incident. Since Wednesday, large parts of India have been engulfed by violent protests. The Agnipath scheme, which provides for short-term recruitment into the armed forces, was announced by the government on Tuesday. The protestors are demanding permanent recruitment under the regular process as well as pension and other retirement benefits that are not a part of the Agnipath scheme.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force chiefs separately on Tuesday amid the unrest, India Today reported.
- Authorities in Haryana’s Jhajjar and Mahendragarh districts have asked all private coaching institutes, which train students for government exams, to remain shut. “There is apprehension that the youth enrolled in these institutions may involve in the protest against Agnipath scheme and can cause breach of peace,” an order said.
- Over 5,000 security personnel were deployed in Jharkhand, including two battalions of Rapid Action Force, six battalions of Railway Protection Force and 24 battalions of Central Reserve Police Force, PTI reported, citing the police. Schools remained shut across the state. Shops and businesses were also closed down in Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Palamu and other areas. However, no untoward incident took place in the state on Monday, said Jharkhand Police spokesperson and IG (Operations) Amol V Homkar.
- West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Agnipath scheme is an insult to the armed forces, PTI reported. “The BJP is trying to create its own armed cadre base through this scheme,” the Trinamool Congress leader said in the Assembly. “What will they [Agniveers] do after four years? The party wants to give arms into the hands of the youth.”
- Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh were quiet after announcing the Agnipath scheme. “For the first time in 75 years, service chiefs are being fronted to defend a policy decision by the government,” he wrote on Twitter.
- A seven member delegation of Congress led by Kharge also met President Ram Nath Kovind to urge the government to withdraw the Agnipath scheme. They submitted a memorandum saying, “Before the announcement of a wholesale drastic change in the Armed Forces recruitment policy, the government did not adopt wide-ranging consultations. Neither was the scheme deliberated upon in the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, nor were the various stakeholders, including political parties consulted.”
- The Samyukta Kisan Morcha will hold a nationwide protest against the Centre’s scheme on June 24, farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said.
- Despite the protests, the Indian Army issued a notification announcing that it will start registrations for the first batch of recruit from July.
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