Smoke and flames billow out of the Vikramshila Express train after youngsters set it on fire to protest against Central Government’s Agnipath Recruitment Scheme for the armed forces, in Lakhisarai on Friday. (ANI Photo)
OVER 200 trains have been affected so far due to the protests against the ‘Agnipath’ scheme for recruitment in the armed forces, the Railways said Friday (17). Around 35 trains have been cancelled while 13 short-terminated since the protests erupted on Wednesday (15), the national carrier said. More than 10 trains were torched by the protesters.
The worst-hit East Central Railways (ECR) — which covers Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh, the states which have witnessed widespread protests — has also decided to “monitor” the operations of eight trains due to the agitations.
Details about other cancelled trains were not immediately available.
Several trains run by the North Frontier Railways also pass through the ECR jurisdiction and three of them are also hit, the railways said. Angry mobs have targeted trains and railway property in their protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces on a short-term contractual basis.
Coaches of three running trains in the ECR and one empty rake in Kulharia (also in the ECR) were damaged by violent protestors. One coach of a stationary train was also damaged in the washing line at Uttar Pradesh’ Balia. Damages to fixed asset are difficult to be assessed at the moment, railway officials said.
In Balia, raising slogans ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai (Long Live Mother India)’ and ‘Agnipath Wapas Lo (withdraw Agnipath scheme)’, protesting youths set an empty train on fire and vandalised a few other trains, prompting the police to lathicharge them.
Reports of agitators vandalising the Secunderabad railway station in Hyderabad and setting a train ablaze have also come in.
According to a report by the Asian News International, AK Gupta, divisional railway manager at Secunderabad railway station, said, “Agnipath protesters set fire to 4-5 train engines & 2-3 coaches. We’ll analyse the extent of the damage. Information of one person being injured. Train services temporarily halted for safety of passengers.”