A 19-year-old was killed in Telangana's Secunderabad on Friday as the police fired at an angry mob who set trains on fire during protests against the new short-term military recruitment scheme 'Agnipath' that have flared around the country.
An outnumbered Telangana police fired in the air to tackle a stone-throwing mob at the Secunderabad railway station as protests escalated into large-scale violence and arson.
The protests flared around 9 am when an estimated 2,000 demonstrators gathered at the station, apparently mobilised through messages on social media and attacked three passenger trains, burning down coaches, destroying property inside and outside, on the platform.
The 19-year-old, identified as Rajesh from Warangal, was killed while more than a dozen were injured.
But the protesters were not deterred and continued sitting on the tracks. They said they were frustrated because exams for military recruitment had been postponed 11 times in the last two years and refused to move till exams were announced.
East Coast Express, Rajkot Express, and Ajanta Express were set on fire by violent mobs. At least 71 trains - 65 from Hyderabad Multi-Modal Transport System and six express - have been cancelled so far.
Across India, more than 300 trains were cancelled or diverted as the protest spread to the southern state after entering the third day in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana. Protests have also been reported in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
Speaking to NDTV, Suman Kumar Sharma, an AC Power Car mechanic, narrated the horrifying scenes while the trains were being vandalised.
"They (protesters) tried setting fire to the coach. They desperately tried to set fire to the power car, but we saved it. The passenger's things have been left behind and broken. Two gates were open, so we let the passengers go from one side. We told them, that the Railway Protection Force will keep them safe. We took the passengers out from here," he said.