‘Agnipath’ scheme: Protest erupts across India over army’s new recruitment policy

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On Thursday, a protest against the ‘Agnipath’ scheme erupted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana, with hundreds of angry army aspirants and others burning tires and interrupting rail and road traffic, demanding the scheme’s discontinuation. A train was also set ablaze at the Bhabua Road railway station by the protestors.

The protest began after the centre announced the scheme on Tuesday, which calls for the enlistment of troops on a contractual basis for a four-year period, followed by mandatory retirement for the majority of them without gratuity or pension benefits.

In the Kaimur district of Bihar, the protestors blocked railway tracks and set a train on fire at Bhabua Road railway station. “We prepared for long and now they have brought ToD (Tour of Duty) as a four-year job. We do not want that but the old recruitment process,” the protestors said.

Earlier, in the morning, hundreds of youth gathered in Nawada, Jehanabad and Munger districts to protest against the recruitment scheme.

Speaking during the protest, an agitator told news agency Asian News International (ANI), “We demand that the recruitment be done as it used to be done earlier. Tour of Duty (ToD) should be rolled back and exams should be held as earlier. Nobody will go to army just for four years.”

On Wednesday, more than 100 young men stormed the railway station and squatted on the tracks, blocking the onward journey of the Patna-bound Janshatabdi Express for nearly 30 minutes in the Buxar district.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled the ‘Agnipath’ scheme on Tuesday for the recruitment of troops in the army, the Navy and the Air Force, largely on a short-term contractual basis, with an aim to cut the gratuity or pension benefits

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