Why army aspirants are protesting against Agnipath, Centre’s new recruitment scheme

For the second consecutive day on Thursday, protests against Agnipath turned violence

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, June 16, 2022, 06:59 PM IST

For the second consecutive day on Thursday, protests against Agnipath, a radical recruitment plan for the armed forces, turned violence.

Army aspirants disrupted rail and road traffic in several parts of Bihar. Protestors smashed glass windows of the intercity express train at Bhabhua Road railway station and set a coach on fire.

At the railway station in Arrah, police used tear gas to disperse a huge crowd of stone-pelters. Visuals showed railway staff using fire extinguishers to put out a fire caused by protesters throwing furniture on the tracks and setting them alight.

In Jehanabad, students pelted stones injuring several people including cops who chased them away to clear the railway tracks where they had camped to disrupt rail traffic. Visuals showed the police and protesting students pelting stones at each other.

In Nawada, groups of young men burnt tyres at a public crossing and raised slogans demanding the rollback of the tour of duty scheme. They also blocked the railway tracks at the Nawada station and burnt tyres on the track. Visuals from the spot showed a huge crowd damaging railway property and shouting expletives at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some did push-ups on the railway tracks while the police try to appeal for peace.

In Saharsa, students flocked to the railway station and pelted stones.

Violent mobs could also be seen in Chapra, carrying heavy wooden sticks and smashing state roadways buses in protest.

Protests have been reported from several parts of Uttar Pradesh as well.

Yesterday, protests broke out in Bihar's Muzaffarpur and Buxar with the protesters asking what they will do after four years.

Why the protests

Agnipath proposes the recruitment of jawans on a contractual basis for a four-year period followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits. The plan aims to cut down the government's salary and pension bills and free up funds for arms procurement. The protesters say the government has not articulated any plans for the employment once they leave the armed forces.

Under the scheme, about 45,000 people between the age of 17.5 years and 21 years will be inducted into the services for a four-year tenure. During this period, they will be paid a monthly salary between Rs30,000-Rs40,000 plus allowances. They will also be entitled to medical and insurance benefits.

But after four years, only 25 per cent of these soldiers will be retained and they will go on to serve for a full 15 years in non-officer ranks. The remaining will exit the services with a package between Rs11 lakh -Rs12 lakh, but won't be eligible for pension benefits.

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