Protests against Agnipath boil...Indian Railways cancels over 200 trains across the country!

As the sequel to the unprecedented rail rampage in several areas during the protests against the Centre's controversial Agnipath scheme, the Indian Railways has cancelled over 200 trains across the country as the protests boil against the scheme. The Railways has on Friday - June 17 said that over 200 trains have been cancelled so far due to protests against the Agnipath.

According to the zonal railways, 164 trains were cancelled in the East Central Railways (ECR), 34 in North Eastern Railways (NER), 13 in Northern Railways (NR) and around three in Northeast Frontier Railways. The officials have said that the coaches of seven trains were set on fire by the protesters. They also had damaged several coaches on the East Central Railways. 

PTI has reported that one coach of a train was also damaged in the washing line at Uttar Pradesh's Ballia. So far, 64 trains were short terminated in ECR. In an official statement, the Southern Railways said that all trains moving from its jurisdiction towards the destinations in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh will be short terminated due to widespread protests and arson in the wake of the Agnipath scheme. 

While the law enforcement agencies resort to using weapons against the protesters across the nation, the events of arson have been rampant with the Railway Minister asking the protesters not to damage the property of the Railways. Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said, "I appeal to the youth to not indulge in violent protests and not damage the property of the Railways." 

The East Central Railways had suffered major devastation as the areas like Bihar, Jharkhand, and parts of Uttar Pradesh have witnessed widespread protests and the ECR has decided to monitor the operations of some trains due to the agitations. Several trains run by the Northeast Frontier Railways pass through ECR and three of them have been hit by the widespread protests. 

The Railways has also said that 13 trains have been cancelled in the Northern Railway Zone, which is the biggest railway zone in the country. Secunderabad's railway station in Hyderabad had also witnessed protests where the agitators had torched up the train. One person was killed in police firing in Secunderabad, the first casualty of protests against Agnipath.

Besides damaging the trains, the protesters had also vandalized public property as the escalating protests against the Agnipath scheme have attracted huge attention across and beyond the borders. The protesters had also torched up the residence of the Deputy Chief Minister and the BJP leader in Bihar. 

What is the Agnipath scheme: 

The Union Cabinet has on June 14 approved a recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the Armed forces. The scheme is called 'Agnipath' and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers. The government has claimed that the Agnipath scheme allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years. Several opposition leaders including Congress have said that the Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces is a cruel joke on the jobless youth in the country. Thousands of youngsters had taken to the streets to protest against this contract-based recruitment service in the armed forces.