Bihar deputy CM, whose home was attacked, bats for Agnipath, blames Oppn ‘goons’

Jun 17, 2022 05:11 PM IST

'Agnipath', announced by defence minister Rajnath Singh, aims to lower age profiles, ensure a fitter military and create a technically adept fighting force capable of meeting future challenges.

Bihar deputy chief minister Renu Devi - whose home was attacked Friday by people protesting against 'Agnipath' - the centre's new armed forces recruitment scheme - has come out in support of the contentious 'tour of duty' model, accusing opposition parties of 'misleading students' and suggesting rival leaders are encouraging destruction of property. 

Bihar deputy CM Renu Devi (File)
Bihar deputy CM Renu Devi (File)

"... Opposition is misleading students and their goons are destroying public property," she told news agency ANI, adding that the 'Agnipath' scheme had built-in financial provisions to help the 75 per cent of recruits who will be forcibly retired after four years of service.

"Once 4 years are over, 'Agniveers' - those to be recruited under the 'Agnipath' scheme - will have a 12 lakh economic package to start afresh. Priority will be given to them for loans, educational courses, (and jobs in) CAPF, or central armed police forces," she said.

Renu Devi joins Bihar's other deputy chief minister, Tarkishore Prasad, in talking up the 'Agnipath' scheme as violent protests against the model rage in several states. "Don't think youth have understood the scheme... or (they) are confused because of which problems are arising. Gradually, this will go away."

Bihar has been particularly affected over the past few days, with multiple trains torched, railway stations and tracks vandalised, and roads blocked.

Renu Devi's home in Bettiah district was attacked; "Our residence in Bettiah was attacked. We suffered a lot of damage. She (Renu Devi) is in Patna," her son said.

Protesters also attacked the residence of Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal, also in Bettiah district, injuring one policeman.

READ: 'Agnipath' protests: Houses of Bihar deputy CM, state BJP chief attacked

Violence against the 'Agnipath' scheme has spread from Bihar to at least six other states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

One death has been reported from Telangana, while reports of unrest have emerged from Bengal and Odisha too.

READ: 1 dead, 8 injured in 'Agnipath' protests at Secunderabad railway station

'Agnipath', announced by defence minister Rajnath Singh and the three service chiefs on Tuesday, aims to lower age profiles, ensure a fitter military and create a technically adept fighting force capable of meeting future challenges.

However, 75 per cent of the recruits - who will be called 'Agniveers' - will be retired after four years of service, which has prompted protests over fears they will lose benefits as well as have difficulties re-integrating into civil society.

READ: Service chiefs mount Agnipath defence as protests rage

The government has stressed this will not be the case, explaining that financial and educational opportunities will be made available to 'Agniveers' and jobs will be available in state and central security forces.

With input from ANI

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