Patna, Jun 20: After more than 10 states witnessed protests against the government's new 'Agnipath' military recruitment scheme last week, a nationwide shutdown call - for 'Bharat Bandh' - has been given by some groups on Monday. This comes a day after the service chiefs ruled out the plan rolling back and revealed the recruitment timelines.
A top army officer also gave a warning to demonstrators. “The Indian Army's foundation lies in discipline. There's no space for arson or vandalism. Every individual will have to give a certificate they were not part of protests or vandalism.
Police verification is mandatory, no one can join without it,” said Lieutenant General Anil Puri, additional secretary, department of military affairs, on Sunday at a key presser. The recruits of the new scheme will be called "Agniveers". In the midst of opposition attacks, a team of Congress leaders is set to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on Monday.
The security personnel in several states - including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab - are alert over the shutdown call. Massive vandalism was reported from several parts of the country last week as trains were torched and demonstrators took to the streets over the recruitment plan unveiled by defense minister Rajnath Singh on June 14. More than 1,000 people have been arrested, most of which are from Bihar. Schools are closed in Jharkhand ahead of the shutdown call. "In the wake of the Bharat Bandh called by certain organizations, all schools in Jharkhand will remain closed tomorrow, June 20. The decision has been taken as a precautionary measure," secretary of the education department, Rajesh Sharma said. Punjab too remains alert after the Ludhiana railway station on Saturday saw demonstrators resorting to violence. Meanwhile, chief minister Bhagwant Mann has been urging the government to roll back the scheme while criticizing the plan.
Noida in Uttar Pradesh, which is also close to the national capital, has barred gatherings under CrPc Section 144. More than 200 arrests have been reportedly made after the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida saw violent protests last week. “It is to remind everyone that CrPC section 144 is already imposed in Gautam Buddh Nagar commissionerate. FIR would be registered against any person found engaged in activities in violation of law and strict action would be taken against them,” the Yamuna Expressway in Greater Noida. More than 400 trains were reportedly affected during the agitations. Dozens of trains had to be canceled and many had to be diverted as train stations were targeted during the protests. Defence minister Rajnath Singh chaired meetings with service chiefs over the weekend to hold discussions amid the Agnipath stir.