Protests against the union government’s army recruitment scheme ‘Agneepath’ continued on Monday as well. The state government has beefed up security in view of the ‘Bharat Bandh’ (Agnipath Protests) call given by the armed forces aspirants.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) have sounded high alert amid calls for Bharat Bandh on Monday over the Centre’s new short-term recruitment policy for the defence forces, Agnipath. The RPF’s senior officers have issued an internal communication statement asking all units to deal with rioters strictly.
The policemen have been asked to book rioters under stringent sections of the IPC. Bihar police registered 145 FIRs and arrested 804 protesters on Sunday for indulging in violence and vandalism during the June 16 to 18 protests against the government’s Agnipath scheme.
Meanwhile, Union minister and former Army chief General V K Singh (retd) slammed the protesters saying if they don’t like the new policy for recruitment into the armed forces they shouldn’t opt for it.
Mass protests erupted last week after the central government announced the Agneepath scheme to recruit youth into the three services of the armed forces. Objecting to some of its conditions, army aspirants are agitating in some states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand and Assam.
The Centre has also been defending the scheme, explaining that recruits, or ‘Agniveers’, retiring after four years will be given financial aid. Also, in a nod to protesters’ concerns, the government has relaxed the upper age limit from 21 to 23.
Bihar took the centerstage as violent protests against the Centre’s Agnipath recruitment scheme intensified on Friday with agitators burning over a dozen trains, vandalising public vehicles and blocking roads and highways. On Thursday, protesters set trains on fire, attacked public and police vehicles as they demanded rollback of the new recruitment scheme for the defence forces.