Thousands of Jobless Youths in Bihar Protest Agnipath Scheme
Patna: A day after the Narendra Modi government announced the Agnipath scheme for recruitment into the armed forces to cut down salaries and pension, thousands of jobless youths protested the decision in several districts of Bihar, Muzaffarpur, Buxar, Begusarai and Bhojpur, on Wednesday.
About 45,000 aspirants in the 17.5-21 age group will be recruited as ‘Agniveers’, or soldiers, into Army, Navy and Air Force for four years with only 25% of them being absorbed for regular service based on merit and performance. The rest will get a one-time tax-free Seva Nidhi package of around Rs 11.71 lakh with no gratuity or pension.
#AgnipathRecruitmentScheme | On completion of the engagement period of 4 years, 'Agniveers' will be paid one-time 'SevaNidhi' package... which will be exempt from Income Tax. There shall be no entitlement to gratuity & pensionary benefits: Ministry of Defence pic.twitter.com/dFae7Qi9yx
— ANI (@ANI) June 14, 2022
Ignoring the intense heatwave, thousands of armed forces aspirants took to the streets, shouted slogans against the scheme and blocked roads and railway tracks. Terming the Agnipath scheme “useless and a ploy to fool them”, the protesters said that a temporary job will shatter the dream of a career in the armed forces.
In Buxar, hundreds of aspirants blocked tracks at the railway station and disrupted train movement. “The government must remove the four-year service term. What we will do after four years of service without pension and other benefits?” protester Rohit Kumar told Newsclick.
Manoj Kumar Singh, another protesting aspirant, said that the “Agnipath scheme is a big joke” for jobless youths. “A politician is eligible for all benefits, including a life-long pension if he gets elected once as MP, MLA or MLC but a jobless youth after hard work and facing stiff competition will serve in the armed forces only for four years,” he said.
In Muzaffarpur, jobless youths carrying bamboo sticks protested in front of the Army Recruitment Office and in other areas. They blocked several roads, including National Highway 28, burnt tyres and shouted slogans. Some of the protesters tried to damage public property and tore hoardings and advertisement boards.
“We will protest in a big way in the coming days. The government will have to change the scheme,” Aniket Kumar said.
Hundreds of protesters blocked National Highway 31 for hours in Begusarai demanding the scrapping of the scheme. In Ara, the district headquarters of Bhojpur, aspirants blocked roads and burnt tyres.
The protesters also expressed anger at the failure of the state and Central governments to provide employment.
According to a Patna-based political watcher, the protest could spread across the state in the coming days. “Soon, a large number of jobless youths will join it as it is related to their livelihood,” he said.
“Our dream has been shattered. We expected more opportunities but the government has done the opposite,” said Amandeep Yadav, a job seeker in Patna.
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