Agnipath scheme: Protests in Haryana, Jind-Bathinda railway track blocked for three hours

Youths pelted stones at vehicles in Ballabhgarh, squatted on railway tracks in Jind and burnt tyres in Rohtak as protests broke out in Haryana for the second day on Friday against the Centre’s Agnipath defence recruitment scheme. Since morning, protests were reported for against the union government’s Agnipath scheme from several places like Gurgaon, Faridabad, Palwal, Narnaund (Hisar), Narnaul, Narwana (Jind) and Rohtak.

Meanwhile, after Palwal and Ballabgarh, mobile internet services (2G/3G/4G/CDMA/GPRS), all SMS services (only bulk SMS and excluding banking and mobile recharge), and all dongle services etc. provided on mobile networks except the voice calls were also suspended in the territorial jurisdiction of district Mahendragarh. The restrictions shall remain imposed with immediate effect that is from June 17, 2022 (16.30) for next 24 hours.

Haryana’s home minister Anil Vij said, “Those involved in arson and stone pelting shall not be spared at any cost.”

A number of youths squatted on rail tracks at Narwana railway station blocking the Jind-Bathinda railway track for three hours, while some youths burnt tyres in Rohtak, while over 40 youths were rounded up in Faridabad’s Ballabhgarh for resorting to stone pelting at vehicles on NH-19. Internet services were also suspended in Ballabhgarh, on Friday morning, after the same restrictions were imposed by the state’s home department in Palwal.

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The protestors were mainly college students and aspirants to get into Army and other defence services of the country. A company of Indian Reserve Battalion was also requisitioned from Rewari to ensure law and order situation in the area. Meanwhile, police booked over 1000 people for the violence in Palwal, yesterday. Three separate FIRs were registered in connection with the violence including two in the Palwal subdivision and another in Hodal subdivision.
A police spokesperson said, “At least 80 youths have been booked by name while another 950 were yet to be identified. Verification and identification of all the accused from video clippings and CCTV footage was being done. All those identified shall soon be subjected to legal action under relevant provisions of law”.

Anil Vij said, “Peace protest and holding peaceful protest march are the rights of people in a democratic setup, but arson can not be tolerated at any cost. These can not be the people aspiring to become soldiers. People who enter the defence services follow utmost discipline. These are miscreants who are spread out across our country and are always on the lookout for such opportunities to disrupt peace and law and order situation. Such people can never succeed in their ulterior motives and the State shall never tolerate it. Strict action shall be taken against all those indulging in arson and vandalism”.

Regarding government’s action against the protestors, Vij added, “Necessary instructions have been issued to the state police department to identify all such miscreants and take stern possible action against them”.

Palwal MLA Deepak Mangla (BJP) said, “The situation is peaceful, today. Some protests took place yesterday and markets were shut. But, I went there on the spot, spoke with the protestors and clarified their doubts. Markets were also opened after I made people understand that arson and stone pelting etc are not the way to convey their sentiments or thoughts. Situation is ok, today”.

Sirsa’s MLA Gopal Kanda (Haryana Lokhit Party), a supporter of BJP in Haryana, said, “If the union government has introduced this scheme, they must have given it a proper thought and must have launched it for the benefit of youth. Yet, if protests are happening, it appears there had been some communication gap somewhere that should be redressed.”

Minor protests were also reported from Fatehabad in Haryana. Fatehabad’s MLA Dura Ram (BJP) said, “There have not been any major protests in my area. There are reports of protests from other areas.”

Rohtak MLA BB Batra (Congress) said, “This scheme is not viable for the youth. I fail to understand from where the government has got this novel idea. Why is the government recruiting for only four years? What is the rationale of this four year formula? It is not going to be a viable scheme for youth who will stand in the queue of thousands of unemployed people after four years. Rohtak, so far, has not seen any major protests. Mainly protests happened in Palwal and Ballabgarh side”. In Rohtak, BKU’s Gurnam Singh Chaduni also reached and supported the protestors. “Centre is playing with the security of the nation and also
playing with the future of the youth. This scheme should immediately be withdrawn”.

Haryana BJP state president Om Prakash Dhankar defended the union government and said, “With this scheme, India will also get empowered similar on the lines of Israel. With this scheme, more and more people of this nation will get combat-training same as in Israel.”

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