Chhapra (Bihar) [India], June 16 (ANI): At least three trains were set on fire in Bihar as protests against the Centre's Agnipath recruitment scheme turned violent in the Chhapra, Gopalganj and Kaimur districts on Thursday.
Several aspirants for the armed forces are unhappy with the changes introduced under the new recruitment scheme for the Indian Army, particularly the length of service, no pension provisions for those released early, and the 17.5 to 21-year age restriction that now makes many of them ineligible.
Agitations have spilled over to several districts as youths protested by lying down on the railway tracks, and blocking roads, demanding the scrapping of the scheme.
"They are protesting on the railway tracks. We are trying to pacify them. We are making an effort to clear the railway track. We are monitoring the situation," Rakesh Kumar, Superintendent of Police, Kaimur, told reporters.
Huge crowds gathered in the Chhapra, Jehanabad, Munger and Nawada areas of Bihar, demanding the withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme.
A group of army aspirants protested at Bhabua Road Railway Station and blocked the tracks before setting a train on fire.
"We prepared for a long and now they have brought ToD (Tour of Duty) as a four-year job. We want the old recruitment process back," protesters said.
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Agnipath recruitment scheme which provides an opportunity for Indian youth to serve in the regular cadre of the Armed Forces for a period of four years.
The scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces and provide a fresh lease of 'Josh' and 'Jazba' whilst at the same time bringing about a transformational shift towards a more tech-savvy Armed Forces - which is indeed the need of the hour. The selection will be the exclusive jurisdiction of the Armed Forces. A total of 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year.
"We demand that the recruitment be done as it used to be done earlier. Tour of Duty (ToD) be rolled back and exams are held as earlier. Nobody will go to Army just for four years, a protestor in Munger told ANI.
Agnipath scheme aims to make the Army a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the full spectrum of conflict, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande said on Tuesday.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, with three services chiefs General Manoj Pande (Army), Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Admiral R Hari Kumar (Navy), addressed a joint press conference, while unveiling the new scheme.
"Agnipath scheme aims to make the Army a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the full spectrum of conflict and it will increase the technical threshold of the Army by recruiting 'Agniveers' through ITIs and other tech-institutes, said General Manoj Pande, the Army Chief.
But some army aspirants are unhappy with the Ministry of Defence's new scheme for recruitment of youth into the armed forces.
"We work hard to get inducted into the Armed forces. How will the service be for four years, with months of training and leaves? How will we protect the nation after getting trained for just three years? The Government has to take back this scheme," said an irate aspirant in Bihar's Jehanabad.