Agnipath protest: several metro stations shut, students detained

Police taking a protester away from the protest site during a demonstration against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme at ITO, New Delhi on Friday.

Police taking a protester away from the protest site during a demonstration against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme at ITO, New Delhi on Friday. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

The Delhi Police has lodged a case of rioting and unlawful assembly against unknown persons for allegedly trying to block traffic and damaging a bus while protesting against the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme, officers said on Friday.

According to police, a few youngsters tried to block the traffic on Wazirabad Road near the Khajuri Khas flyover as part of their protest against the new scheme to recruit soldiers on a four-year contract basis.

The police added that the windscreen of a bus got damaged when stones were pelted at it.

Subsequently, a police team rushed to the spot and removed the accused persons from the protest site.

A case under IPC sections pertaining to punishment for rioting and unlawful assembly in prosecution of a common object, among others, has been lodged at the Khajuri Khas police station.

“We have initiated the process of identifying the accused persons. Security has already been strengthened in the area in view of the protests,” a senior officer said.

AAP extends support

Speaking on the protests, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Friday said the protests across the country were proof that India’s youth will never accept the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme.

Earlier in the day, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party had also extended support to the demands of the youth for the rollback of the scheme and said that the protesters should exercise their right to protest in a democratic manner, “instead of resorting to vandalism and arson”.

“Every youth has the right to join the Army and dedicate their whole life to the country, but today the BJP is depriving them of this right. The demonstrations happening across the country are clear proof that the youth of India will never accept Agnipath. No policy or law can be greater than the passion for service to the nation,” Sisodia said in a tweet in Hindi.

Security beefed up

The entry and exit gates of several metro stations were also shut in view of the protests.

Delhi Metro, in a series of tweets, said it had closed the gates of ITO and Dhansa Bus Stand metro stations.

Later, gates of the Dhansa Bus Stand metro station were opened, while some gates of the Delhi Gate and Jama Masjid metro station were closed for a brief period.

Students stage protest

Meanwhile, the Left-affiliated All India Students’ Association (AISA) and several other student organisations staged protests against the new defence recruitment scheme on Friday.

Terming the scheme “disastrous”, the protesters asked the government to immediately fill all vacant posts in defence on a permanent basis and take back the scheme.

Around 18 persons were immediately detained by the police after they gathered at ITO to protest.

Claiming that the Agnipath scheme was “nothing but a design to destroy permanent jobs in the Army and introduce massive casualisation of Army jawans”, the AISA said in a statement: “The Modi government has killed all opportunities of dignified employment after enforcing casualisation and contractualisation in every sector”.

IYC office barricaded

The Indian Youth Congress’s (IYC) national media in-charge Rahul Rao said the entire IYC office was barricaded and no one was allowed to enter the office. Those who tried entering were being stopped and detained.

The IYC members resented the police’s move to barricade the main gate to their office without assigning any reason and turning their office into a “police containment” zone.

“No reason was given for the barricading,” Mr. Rao said, adding that the IYC members were stopped from staging a “peaceful” protest on Thursday.

However, the police denied any overreach and said that the move was part of the measures taken by them to ensure “adequate security arrangements”. A senior police officer said that section 144 of CrPC had already been invoked in the area and that IYC did not have a permission to take out a protest against the scheme.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 10:09:18 am |