Kolkata, June 18 (PTI): Train services on the Sealdah-Barrackpore route in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district were disrupted for around one hour on Saturday as a group of anti-Agnipath agitators blocked railway tracks and did push-ups to register protest against the new scheme for recruitment in armed forces.
Around 20 protesters blocked both up and down lines at a level crossing from around 10 AM thus also affecting vehicular traffic, a spokesperson of the Eastern Railway said.
"We love our country, please don't play with our future. We have been preparing for the army for several years, and now the Centre implements Agnipath scheme. We demand its immediate rollback," one of the protesters, carrying 'Boycott Agnipath' placard, told reporters.
The demonstration affected railway services during office hours, and many commuters waiting at Barrackpore Railway Station reached the protest site and an altercation ensued with the agitators. The protesters were removed from the spot around 11.15 AM and railway services and movement of vehicles resumed, a GRP official said.
Around 50-60 anti-Agnipath agitators had blocked the railway tracks at Thakurnagar station in the district for an hour-and-a-half on the previous day. Under the Agnipath scheme, jawans will be recruited on a contractual basis for four years, following which 75 per cent of them will have to take compulsory retirement sans pension while the remainder will be allowed to continue service. The selection will be made based on their performance.
The move has triggered violent protests in several parts of the country, with agitators burning trains and blocking roads demanding the rollback of the scheme. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Saturday announced a 10 per cent reservation for Agniveers in recruitment in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam Rifles.
The MHA also decided to give three years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit to Agniveers for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles. For the first batch of Agniveers, the age relaxation will be for five years beyond the prescribed upper age limit.