'Agnipath' Protests: Defence Minister Holds Meeting With Service Chiefs

Agnipath protests: The Railways cancelled 234 trains while 340 trains have been affected due to the protests.

Agnipath protests: A vehicle set on fire during Bihar Bandh today.

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level meeting with service chiefs today amid protests over the new military recruitment scheme, Agnipath. One person has died in the protests that have now spread to eight states.

Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:

  1. Protesters clashed with police and set several vehicles on fire this morning in Bihar as they tried to implement a bandh called against the contentious recruitment scheme. Protests against 'Agnipath' turned violent in Bihar on Friday when rampaging mobs set fire to trains and other property, prompting the police to suspend internet services in 18 districts of the state. At least 325 people have been arrested in the state so far.

  2. In Telangana, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao expressed shock and grief over the death of a 24-year-old man who died after security personnel opened fire at agitators at the Secunderabad railway station on Friday. Mr Rao announced Rs 25 Lakhs compensation to the victim's family and also one government job to an eligible member of the family, his office said in a release.

  3. The incident led to a war of words between Mr Rao's government and the opposition BJP, with Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao blaming the "faulty procedures" of the Centre for the death of Rakesh.

  4. Faced with a massive backlash to the scheme, the centre has now announced more concessions for Agniveers, including reservation in central armed police forces jobs.  

  5. At least 250 people have been arrested in Uttar Pradesh over the protests, which has seen hundreds of angry youth, carrying bamboo sticks and stones, storming railway premises across cities and laying siege to highways. Heavy police presence was reported in Jaunpur district today after protesters blocked roads and targeted private vehicle amid the protests.

  6. BJP-ruled Haryana has also witnessed massive protests as angry protesters threw stones at vehicles in Ballabhgarh, squatted on railway tracks in Jind and burnt tyres in Rohtak on Friday.

  7. At least 15 protesters were arrested following violence in Madhya Pradesh's Indore on Friday. Two policemen also suffered minor injuries after nearly 600 protesters gathered on tracks near a railway station and threw stones and blocked a road, prompting the police to throw teargas shells to control the situation, officials said.

  8. A massive protest march was held in Kerala against the scheme. The protesters said they would continue the strike till the Centre rolls back its decision and justice is ensured to them. "Many of us have decided to join the army and started preparations for the examination after dropping our graduation studies midway. What will we do if the Centre goes ahead with this scheme? Our future will be in peril. So, we will continue our fight till we get justice," a protester said.

  9. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has appealed to everyone not to indulge in any violent protest and not to damage railways properties. Assurances by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and the Army chief have failed to cut ice with the protesters, who are unhappy with the changes in the new recruitment scheme, particularly the length of service and no pension provisions for those released early.

  10. 'Agnipath' is a game-changing scheme that will give the armed forces a tech-savvy youthful profile, Major General Vikas Saini, GOC 51 Sub Area, was quoted saying amid protests against the recruitment scheme. "Agnipath scheme aims to bring paradigm changes in the human resource management of the Indian Army and prepare the army as a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the whole spectrum of conflicts," Mr Saini said.