At least two dozen people including policemen were injured on Wednesday when candidates of an Army recruitment rally in Gwalior indulged in violence. Irate candidates torched several vehicles, damaged a few others and some properties in the area. The youngsters also pelted the Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express and smashed more than two dozen windowpanes.
Angry job aspirants went on rampage after scores of them failed to clear the physical fitness test at the recruitment rally.
More than 20,000 candidates from Gwalior, Chambal and Sagar division had turned up for the week-long "walk-in" recruitment rally at the local Mela Ground which started on Wednesday morning.
However, after the violence, Army authorities cancelled the rally.
Twenty-four people suffered injuries in the violence. They were admitted to a local hospital and later discharged after being provided medical treatment, said a senior police official.
Police had to cane-charge the candidates and lob tear gas shells to disperse the unruly mob, said senior superintendent of police Santosh Kumar Singh. The situation has been brought under control, he said.
Trouble started after a group of aspirants — who had failed to clear the physical fitness test — turned violent in the morning which forced Army authorities to cancel the rally.
Agitated candidates took to streets and vent their anger on passers-by, vehicles, ATM booths, railings and trains along Racecourse road and later on Gwalior-Bhind and Gwalior-Morena roads.
The situation, however, was restored by prompt police action, the SSP said.
According to the SSP, police pushed the mob back to a cordoned off area and ferried them out of town in requisitioned buses to Bhind, Morena, Shivpuri, Datia and other places.
Police have detained several persons in connection with the violence, he added.
Rampaging candidates ransacked whatever came in their way from Racecourse road to Gwalior-Bhind road and Gole Ka Mandir area, said Bhupesh Singh, an eyewitness.
Army sources said that they had expected a modest turnout of candidates for the walk-in recruitment rally.
On Wednesday, an unexpectedly high number of hopefuls turned had up for the recruitment rally even before it started at 4.30 in the morning, the sources said.
The violence continued for more than three hours till 11.30am before the situation could be brought under control by police and Army personnel.
Sources said Army personnel had allegedly fired in the air to disperse thousands of job aspirants, who had allegedly gatecrashed the rally.
Col Ramesh of Madhya Pradesh-Chhattisgarh Army Recruitment Board, who was present at the rally site, said he had no knowledge about such firing by Army personnel.
Touts in connivance with the rejected candidates created the trouble, Col Ramesh said, adding that touts had helped the disqualified candidates to gatecrash the recruitment rally.
Meanwhile, passengers on-board Delhi-Bhopal Shatabdi Express were taken aback when angry candidates pelted the train with stones when it arrived at Gwalior station on Wednesday morning.
Over two dozen windowpanes of the train were smashed but nobody was injured.
Passengers, who talked to HT on their arrival at Habibganj railway station in Bhopal, said thousands of youngsters gheroed the train and tried to get in.
"We were scared as we were not aware why they were so angry and what they wanted to do. I tried to talk to some of them but they didn't listen," said Lata Gupta, who had boarded the train in Gwalior.
Angoori Devi, an elderly passenger, said the youngsters attacked the train with stones and tried to get in.
"They also beat up some staff members who tried to stop them from hopping on the train," she said.
Another passenger Vishal Gupta said when the incident occurred, most passengers took cover in the mid-passage of the compartments and covered their children.
"We were not sure whether the heavy glass panes would stop the stones from coming inside. But, mostly the outer windowpanes were smashed while some of the inner ones developed cracks," he said.
Some staff members on the train alleged that they were roughed up by the agitated candidates. "As I was trying to stop them from entering, they beat me up and hurt my arm," said Mohammad Nayeem, who works in the sanitary section for train.
Basic repair work was carried out at Habibganj railway station when the train arrived in Bhopal around 2:30pm.
As soon as the train arrived at the platform, railway staff removed the glass pieces from the windowpanes and put plastic tapes on the panes that had developed cracks. They also swept platform number 1 to remove the scattered glass.
Senior railway section engineer at Habibganj, Vikas Shula, told HT that the staff was already waiting at the station for carrying out the basic repair work.
"We carried out the repair work in record time so that the train departure was not delayed and passengers didn't have to face any inconvenience," he added.