The rioters in Bihar, protesting against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme, have been found linked to several private coaching centres in different parts of the state, police say. Patna District Magistrate Chandrashekhar Singh said the state administration would proceed legally against them on the basis of video footage as well as chats in WhatsApp groups that were made to instigate mobs.
Police say the operatives include people who own coaching centres, some of whom suffice as tutors.
In one of the videos, the owner of one of the coaching centres is heard saying: “First of all, you revolt against ToD (Tour of Duty) at every level possible. Revolt completely. Do not spare any level. If you want to show your ‘josh’, your courage and motivation, show it to the government, and not to your mummy or papa. Till yesterday, 42 died and today the suicide tally has reached 63. These are based on information that we got. There could be many such villages. Suicide is useless, do not do it. If you get a report of suicide from any village, go there and tell the youths, do not commit suicide Give them good thoughts. TOD has been forcibly implemented,” according to India TV head Rajat Sharma .
The Patna DM said that security forces had been deployed in sensitive areas other than places that had already erupted in riots. The administration is appealing to the people to maintain law and order, he said.
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The administration has lodged FIRs against 170 people for the arson and vandalism at the Danapur station, of which 46 have been arrested so far.
The Danapur Divisional Railway Manager put the losses to railway properties at over Rs 200 crore. 50 coaches, five engines have been completely burnt, and platforms, computers and technical devices were smashed by protesters, he said.
In view of the rampant rioting, the Nitish Kumar government has shut down internet services in 12 districts: Rohtas, Lakhisarai, Aurangabad, Kaimur, Bhojpur, Baksar, Saran, Samastipur, Begusarai, Nawada, Champaran and Vaishali. The internet will remain inaccessible in cities, towns and villages across these districts for 48 hours.
This is the third consecutive day of violent riots against the Agnipath employment scheme in Bihar. One person died in Lakhisarai in rioting.
As many as 27 railway stations have been damaged while rioters also set on fire 14 trains. The rioters also targeted BJP leaders, their houses, family members and offices. The miscreants set many buses on fire.
The most disturbing visuals came from the Kulharia railway station in Arrah, Bihar, where a stationary train was set on fire. As the flames spread, firemen scrambled to control, but, by that time, the train was reduced to ashes. In Samastipur, the Darbhanga-Delhi Bihar Sampark Kranti Express was set on fire. The protesters first looted belongings left by passengers, and then set fire to the coaches. At Lakhisarai station, a train was torched even before the passengers alighted, leading to the death of a passenger. At Isampur station in Nalanda, four coaches of Magadh Express were torched by protesters.
Situation in other parts of the country
In view of the violent protests against Agnipath in Agra, coaching centres, including those that prepare students for entry into the army, have been closed indefinitely. Students have been sent home.
After Thursday, the youth demonstrated on Friday against the Agnipath recruitment scheme in Agra. They threw stones at a police vehicle on Gwalior Road. Earlier on Thursday, they had jammed MG Road.
The police administration in Agra is on alert, with cops patrolling sensitive localities to secure peace in the city and towns of the district.
Interestingly, the administration has issued no written order to shut the coaching centres. Even coaching centres located in villages have been asked through verbal communication to shut shop for the time being and send their students home.
And this is the scenario in Haryana (notice the dialect of Hindi used in the WhatsApp messages):
There were protests in Jaunpur, Kannauj and Gautam Buddha Nagar (popularly known as Noida) in Uttar Pradesh. Protesters tried to block the Agra-Lucknow expressway near Kannauj. In Chennai, protesters marched to the War Memorial to stage protests against the scheme.