Agnipath protests, rail services strike again

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There was no respite in the protests against the Centre’s recently launched military recruitment program – Agnipath – as protesters continued to block railway tracks in several parts of West Bengal on Sunday.

With the protests also taking place in several parts of the country, the Eastern Railway has canceled or postponed several trains connecting Kolkata and other places in West Bengal to the north of the country, including the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express.

A total of 29 trains including Poorva Express, Howrah-Kalka Netaji Express, Kolkata-Amritsar Express, Yog Nagari Rishikesh Doon Express, Sealdah-Jaynagar Gangasagar Express, Kolkata-Gorakhpur Purvanchal Express, Asansol-Gaya Express, Asansol-Varanasi Express, Howrah -Joynagar Express and Malda Town-Patna Express have been canceled for the day, an Eastern Railway official said.

Among the trains that were postponed were Kolkata-Jammu Tawai Express, Howrah-New Delhi Purba Express, Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and Howrah-Dehradun Kumbh Express.

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The railways deployed additional security forces at Asansol station following the protests. “RPF personnel were deployed on each platform of the station and around the railway line. At the same time, continuous patrols continue. Every moment is monitored by CCTV cameras,” an official said.

Earlier in the day, army aspirants staged a protest at Serampore railway station and blocked the tracks of the Howrah-Burdwan railway line in Hooghly district. Several trains got stuck at different stations due to the blockade. Many passengers were stranded at Howrah station, one of the country’s busiest rail junctions.

Demanding a rollback of the Agnipath programme, protesters branded it an anti-youth program and burned effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Serampore TMC Lok Sabha member Kalyan Banerjee has attacked the Narendra Modi government, accusing it of ruining the future of the youth. “All the policies and all the new programs that Narendra Modi introduces are ruining the future of the youth. They will get a job for four years, what kind of planning is this? None of their policies benefit ordinary people. But I don’t support violent protests,” Banerjee said.

The rail blockade was lifted following appeals and the intervention of the railway police.

“We oppose the black law of the central government. The protest will escalate and we will do the commotion as is done in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh from tomorrow (Monday). The railways will be blocked if the central government does not listen to us. Not a single train from Bengal will go to Uttar Pradesh or Delhi. There should be no compromise with the military for the good of the country,” said Deepak Singh, one of the protesters.

Members of SFI and DYFI also marched from Dakbanglo junction to Rampurhat Panchmatha junction in Birbhum district against the recruitment programme.

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