Agnipath protests turn violent in Bihar, 5 train coaches set on fire

Updated on Jun 16, 2022 06:45 PM IST

Some veterans have criticised the Agnipath scheme saying its disadvantages may outweigh the advantages

Protests were reported from across the state. (HT PHOTO)
Protests were reported from across the state. (HT PHOTO)

Angry protests erupted in several parts of Bihar on Thursday over the launch of the Agnipath scheme for short-term induction of personnel in the armed forces, with thousands of young men attacking railway stations and police personnel, setting five railway coaches on fire and blocking road traffic.

The protesters burnt tyres, threw stones at police personnel, attacked trains, and ransacked railway station premises and business establishments, demanding that the government withdraw the Agnipath scheme announced by the central government on Tuesday.

Nearly 30 trains were cancelled due to the protests and rail traffic was disrupted in five areas across Bihar for most of Thursday.

In south Bihar’s Nawada district, the protesters also threw stones at the car of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Aruna Devi who was on her way to a local court leading to injuries to five people including two security guards, the driver and her two aides. Later, the protesters burnt down the district BJP office. Another BJP legislator CN Gupta’s house was attacked in Saran district’s Chapra town and in north Bihar’s Madhubani district, the local BJP office was ransacked and set on fire.

The protesters who were waiting for the army recruitment process, which was halted in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, to be resumed were unhappy with the changes introduced under the new scheme -- the 17.5 to 21 age restriction that now makes many of them ineligible, the length of service, and the absence of any pensionary provision for people recruited as Agniveers.

Bihar’s additional director general (law and order) Sanjay Singh said there were stray incidents of violence and forceful closure of shops in some cities. He added the protests elsewhere in the state remained peaceful.

Police officers said the violent protests were reported from Bhojpur and Saran districts, two of Bihar’s 38 districts that account for a large proportion of recruits in the armed forces and central police forces.

The East Central Railway (ECR) said around 30 trains including four Express trains were cancelled due to protests and railway traffic remained disrupted between Patna-Gaya, DDU-Jhajha, Kiul-Gaya, Gopalganj-Chhapra and Barauni-Katihar rail sections for many hours. Trains were also stranded at Danapur, Jehanabad, Buxar, Gaya, Ara, Saharsa, Madhubani, Dalsingsarai, Khagaria, Sahebpur Kamal, Bhabhua and Chapra stations where the agitators damaged the track, broke AC compartment and targeted the signal system. ECR chief spokesperson Birendra Kumar said all stations were cleared of the agitators by 3.30pm and train movement resumed.

Police said three coaches of three passenger trains were set afire at Bhabua Road railway station, Sidhwalia (Gopalganj) and Chapra railway stations.

Security personnel in Chapra fired shots in the air to disperse the mob at the railway station while the police in Ara and Bhabhua districts were able to manage with teargas shells. Police resorted to lathi charge in many parts of the state such as Begusarai, Nawada, Jehanabad, Arwal, Sitamarhi, Samastipur and Saharsa.

In Ara district, the protesters ransacked a newly built railway platform, damaged the ticket counter and ransacked several stalls apart from attacking private and government vehicles

Reports from Chapra said three train coaches of Barauni-Gondia Express and one coach of a passenger train were set ablaze and private shops in the town were attacked.

At Siwan, protestors tried to set the train engine on fire.

Bhabua district superintendent of police Rakesh Kumar said they used teargas shells and lathi charge to chase away the mob.

At Motihari, a woman passenger and four police personnel including a station house officer (SHO) were injured and two motorcycles were torched after a large number of protestors attacked police personnel and damaged the railway properties near Bapudham railway station Motihari.

East Champaran’s superintendent of police Dr Kumar Ashish said over 20 people have been arrested on charges of attacking a police team and damaging railway properties. Four police personnel including Motihari station house office (SHO) were injured.

A woman passenger on the Avadh Express was also injured when protesters smashed the train’s windows.

(With inputs from Prasun K Mishra, Bhabua, Sandeep Bhaskar, Bettiah and Prashant Ranjan, Ara)


    Avinash, a senior correspondent, reports on crime, railways, defence and social sector, with specialisation in police, home department and other investigation agencies.

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