Delhi

Protests against Agnipath scheme turn violent in Haryana

Youngsters protest outside the Army Recruitment Office (ARO-Jharkhand Chapter) against the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, in Ranchi, on June 16, 2022. Similar protests were held in Haryana.

Youngsters protest outside the Army Recruitment Office (ARO-Jharkhand Chapter) against the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, in Ranchi, on June 16, 2022. Similar protests were held in Haryana. | Photo Credit: PTI

Fifteen police personnel, including two Station House Officers, sustained serious injuries and five government vehicles were torched at Haryana’s Palwal on Thursday during violent protests against the Central government’s Agnipath scheme to recruit soldiers on a four-year contract basis.

Amid widespread protests against the scheme across the State, including Rohtak, Rewari and Charkhi Dadri districts, the demonstrators blocked the Delhi-Jaipur highway in Gurugram for over six hours. Traffic was diverted at several points in Haryana and Rajasthan.

Leaders belonging to the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party criticised the scheme and demanded its withdrawal. Congress Rajya Sabha member Deepender Hooda, in a tweet, said the new scheme was dangerous for the future of the youth and the country’s security. He said he would soon write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking its withdrawal. Meham Independent MLA Balraj Kundu also held a press conference with a similar demand.

Youth kills self

Allegedly depressed over unemployment, a 23-year-old man from Haryana’s Jind died by suicide at a paying guest facility in Rohtak on Thursday, the local police said. The police, however, added that the incident was not directly linked to recruitment in armed forces.

Peaceful protests near Agra Chowk in Palwal turned violent around noon after a group of young men allegedly tried to break into the official residence of the Deputy Commissioner and pelted stones on the police personnel deployed there. The mob allegedly snatched a 20-round bandolier, a pocketed belt for holding individual bullets, and set five vehicles, including a PCR van, ablaze. Mukesh Malhotra, Superintendent of Police, Palwal, said the police resorted to mild use of force and fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob.

Separate cases have been registered at the Palwal city and camp police stations and two Special Investigation Teams have been constituted to probe the incidents. Another case has been registered at the Hodal police station for blocking the Delhi-Agra Highway. Mr. Malhotra said efforts were on to identify the miscreants with the help of the videos being circulated on the social media and closed-circuit television footages.

Dharna on highway

In Gurugram, a large number of local youths sat on a “dharna” on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway around 9 a.m. in protest against the government’s scheme, blocking the traffic till 4 p.m.

The armed forces aspirants also held protests at Rewari, Charkhi Dadri and Rohtak, and handed over memoranda to the district authorities expressing concerns over job security and pension under the new scheme. Hansraj, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Headquarters, Rewari, said several young men gathered near the bus stand in the city around 11 a.m. and staged protest against the new scheme for recruitment in armed forces. In a similar protest, young men blocked traffic near the bus stand in Charkhi Dadri.

Udai Raj Meena, Superintendent of Police, Rohtak, said scattered protests were held at several places in the district, but the demonstrations remained peaceful.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal had on Wednesday thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the scheme and announced that preference would be given to the youth recruited under the scheme for government jobs in the State.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 6:06:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/protests-in-haryana-over-agnipath-scheme/article65532614.ece