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Bharat Bandh Amid ‘Agnipath’ Protests; States On High Alert, Train Services Affected

Bharat Bandh

Some groups have called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Monday to coincide with the continuing protests calling for the plan to be scrapped.

New Delhi: With the government refusing to back down on the ‘Agnipath’ military recruitment scheme, some groups have called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on Monday to coincide with the continuing protests calling for the plan to be scrapped.

Over 500 trains have been cancelled today as a result of the Bharat Bandh call in some regions of the country in protest of the government’s ‘Agnipath’ short-term armed forces recruiting strategy. Over the last five days, the railways have experienced a significant loss of property owing to arson and violence by demonstrators.

As the police have strengthened security across the city and its adjoining districts, traffic bottlenecks have occurred in several parts of Delhi. There were massive traffic congestion on the Delhi-Noida Direct Flyway as well as the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway. The police have warned that anyone who attempts to disrupt the law and order situation would face severe consequences.

Congress leaders staged a ‘Satyagraha’ at Jantar Mantar in the national capital to show support for armed military candidates challenging the ‘Agnipath’ plan. Several organisations will organise an unified movement at the protest site, according to Delhi Minister Gopal Rai.

A group of armed services hopefuls in Haryana blocked the Lal Batti Chowk in Fatehabad, while others protested on Rohtak district roadways. To avoid any untoward incidents, security has been increased in numerous areas in Kerala, Telangana, West Bengal, and Rajasthan. Prohibitory orders have been issued in Faridabad and Noida, prohibiting gatherings of four or more people.

Uttar Pradesh Police said strict action will be taken against those found involved in jeopardising peace. In Punjab, the police have been asked to monitor the activities of social media groups which are allegedly mobilising or spreading instigating information about the scheme.

The Bihar government has beefed up security at vulnerable party headquarters. Internet access is currently unavailable in 20 districts. All schools in Jharkhand will be closed today due to protests against the ‘Agnipath’ scheme.

On Sunday, the three military forces released a comprehensive timetable of enrolling under the ‘Agnipath’ initiative, warning that anyone who engage in violence or arson will not be enrolled.

On Saturday, the Home and Defence Ministries announced new 10% job quotas for ‘Agnipath’ recruits after their four-year service in the armed forces. PSUs under Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s housing and petroleum ministries are also working on plans to induct ‘Agniveers,’ according to him.

In addition, the Home Ministry has decided to grant Agniveers a three-year age relaxation above the specified upper age restriction for enlistment into the Central Armed Police Forces and the Assam Rifles. Earlier, as a one-time gesture to appease the protesters, the Centre raised the upper age limit for recruitment to 23 years for the year 2022.

 

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