Indian Railways suffered a loss of Rs 259.44 crores due to damage and destruction of its assets in agitations against the Agnipath Scheme, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnav told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
Giving a written reply to a series of questions asked by Congress leader Akhilesh Prasad Singh, the Minister further said, "a separate data regarding the amount of refund granted to passengers due to disruption of rail services on account of public disorder consequent to agitation like those held after launching of Agneepath scheme is not maintained".
However, Vaishnav said, during the period from "June 14, 2022 to June 30, 2022, a total refund of approximately Rs 102.96 crores was granted on account of cancellation of trains".
The Minister's reply came when the Congress MP asked, "Whether it is a fact that an extensive loss of the railway property has taken place on account of the agitations against the implementation of the Agnipath scheme".
The Minister also said that police and public order are state subjects under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.
Therefore, Vaishnav said, state governments are responsible for the prevention, detection, registration and investigation of crime and maintenance of law and order on Railways through their law enforcement agencies viz. Government Railway Police (GRP) and District Police. Railway Protection Force (RPF) supplements the efforts of GRP/District Police to provide better protection and security to railway property, passenger area and passengers and for matters connected therewith.
"Cases of damage, destruction of government property including railway property are registered and investigated by the concerned GRP and State Police under IPC and Railways Act." Trains went up in flames, and public and private vehicles were attacked, while railway stations and highways turned into battlegrounds in many states amid burgeoning protests against Agnipath, the defence recruitment scheme.
Unveiling the 'Agnipath' scheme, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh last month said that it was a transformative initiative that would provide a youthful profile to the armed forces.
'Agnipath' is a pan India merit-based recruitment scheme for enrolling soldiers, airmen and sailors. The scheme provides an opportunity for youth to serve in the regular cadre of the armed forces. All those recruited under the 'Agnipath' scheme will be called 'Agniveers'.
'Agniveers' will be enrolled for a service duration of 4 years including a training period. After four years, only 25 per cent of the Agniveers will be retained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre based on merit, willingness and medical fitness.
They will then serve for a full term of another 15 years.
The first four years, served under a contract, are not likely to be taken into consideration for the fixation of the final pensionary benefits.
The other 75 per cent 'Agniveers' will be demobilized, with an exit or "Seva Nidhi" package of Rs 11-12 lakh, partly funded by their monthly contributions, as well as skill certificates and bank loans for help in their second careers