Agnipath Row: Protests erupt at several places in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme spread to Odisha on Friday as hundreds of aspirants for recruitment in the Armed Forces blocked the arterial Ring Road in Cuttack and tore down hoardings in the Cantonment area of the silver city.

Many of the protestors claimed to have already cleared physical fitness and medical tests for recruitment in the Army last year and were waiting to write the Common Entrance Examination (CEE).

The protests followed the death by suicide of a person who it is said cleared the physical fitness and medical tests during a recruitment drive by the Army and apprehended that it will be cancelled after the announcement of ‘Agnipath’.

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Police held lathi charges to disperse the protestors and detained some of them, said Cuttack deputy commissioner of police, Pinak Mishra.

The situation is under control and action will be taken against offenders as per the law, he said.

Hundreds of young men gathered in front of the Army office in the Cantonment area on Friday morning and protested against the Centre’s recruitment scheme for the Armed Forces. They vented their ire by burning tyres on the roads and raising slogans.

“Why is recruitment under the Agnipath scheme for only four years? How can a person protect the nation when his service condition has no guarantee for his social security? asked an agitating youth.

A report from Balasore district said that a 27-year-old man Dhananjay Mohanty, a resident of Tentei village in Soro police station area who had cleared the physical fitness test one and half years ago during a recruitment drive by the Army, allegedly committed suicide on Wednesday night due to frustration over the Agnipath scheme.

His family members said that Mohanty had received the admit card for the CEE to be held on August 30. But he apprehended that the examination stood cancelled after the announcement of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, which proposes the recruitment in the Armed Forces on a contractual basis for those up to 23 years of age for a period of four years followed by compulsory retirement for most of them without gratuity and pension benefits.

They said Mohanty had lost his mental balance fearing his hard work had gone waste and hanged himself from the ceiling by a rope at his home late on Wednesday night.

Before taking the extreme step, Mohanty had messaged his brother and friends bidding goodbye’ to them and asked them to take care of his parents, the family members said.

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