Aspirant runs 60 km, anti-Agnipath protest spreads in Odisha

Bhubaneswar, Jun 18 (PTI) An aspirant for an Armed Forces job ran 60 km in Nabarangpur as a mark of his opposition to 'Agnipath' on Saturday and a large number of agitators sat in dharna near the revenue divisional commissioner's office in Berhampur in Ganjam district as protests against the scheme spread in Odisha.

The agitators at Berhampur, including many who cleared the physical tests held earlier, raised slogans demanding withdrawal of the 'Agnipath' initiative and demanded at least 15 years of service in the Armed Forces instead of four after selection.

The demonstration was completely peaceful as the administration had made elaborate security arrangement keeping in view the violent agitation in different states.

An agitator Dilip Kumar Nahaka said I have already spent three years in NCC and got its A, B and C certificates. Many like me have also spent two years preparing for the defence service. Now the government is saying that out tenure will be for only four years .

Besides many of the agitators have already crossed the present upper age limit of 23 years as defence recruitment was not conducted for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

When the government is conducting all other examinations, including for civil services and even IPL matches, it deferred several times recruitment for the armed forces on the plea of pandemic, he said amidst vociferous support by those present at the spot.

Naveen Biswas, a youth from Nabarangpur district, who has cleared the physical test and is waiting for the written examination to enter the defence services, ran 60 km from Nabarngpur town to the Biju Patnaik Stadium at Umorkote in the district during the day.

I request the aspirants not to indulge in violence. There are other ways ways of registering protest," said Naveen, who claimed that he has been waiting for long to appear for the written examination for recruitment in the Army.

His mother Visakha said I urge the government not to the shatter dreams of the youths who are ready to serve Mother India.

East Coast Railways has cancelled or short terminated more trains passing through Odisha from Visakhapatnam in view of nationwide protests against 'Agnipath' military recruitment scheme.

No train will be dealt at Visakhapatnam Railway Station from 6 am to 2 pm on June 18 in view of the agitation, the ECoR stated in a release.

The state had witnessed anti-Agnipath protest and violence in Cuttack on Friday and alleged suicide by an aspirant in Balasore district.