Anti-Agnipath agitation: Massive protest rally in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: The ongoing anti-Agnipath agitations in various parts of the country on Saturday sparked another form of protest in Kerala as hundreds of youths took out huge protest rallies in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode demanding to conduct the pending written examination for the army recruitment at the earliest.

The protesting youths were those who had already cleared their physical and medical fitness tests and had been waiting for their army Common Entrance Examination (CEE) for the last two years.

Many of them expressed concern that the implementation of Agnipath scheme would spoil their chance of direct recruitment to the military service.

MS Education Academy

The job aspirants, who gathered in huge numbers at Thampanoor here in the morning, marched to Raj Bhavan, the official residence of Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, raising slogans of “We want justice” and holding placards and banners.

The placards read “Conduct Army CEE Exam”, “Boycott Agnipath”, “Justice for army students” and so on.

When the police blocked the agitating youths with a barricade near Raj Bhavan, they squatted on the road and demonstrated push-up exercises to express their protest and despair for the written examination getting delayed inordinately.

An agitating man said they would continue their protests till justice is ensured to them.

“Many of us have decided to join the army and started preparations for the written examination after dropping our graduation studies midway. What will we do if the Centre goes ahead with this scheme? Our future will be in peril. So, we will continue our fight till we get justice,” he said here.

In Kozhikode, hundreds of youths, who already cleared their physical and medical fitness tests, gathered near Calicut railway station to mark their concern over their fate in the wake of Agnipath scheme.

An official of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) said the protesters were hailing from various parts of Malabar (northern Kerala) and they were blocked on the Link Road.

Meanwhile, a post-office march, taken out by CPI’s youth outfit AIYF extending support to the army job aspirants, was blocked by police raising barricades in Pathanamthitta.

Two police personnel reportedly suffered minor injuries as protesters allegedly pelted stones at them.

Violent protests have broken out in parts of the country demanding the Centre to roll back Agnipath scheme unveiled by the Ministry of Defence which is a pan-India merit-based recruitment scheme for enrolling soldiers, airmen and sailors.

Trains were set afire, public and police vehicles attacked and personnel injured as protests over ‘Agnipath’ snowballed and swept across several states including Uttar Pradesh and Bihar on Thursday and Friday.

On Friday, a 24-year-old man was shot dead in police firing during protests in Telangana’s Secunderabad.

Under the scheme, young persons will be provided an opportunity to serve in the armed forces as ‘Agniveer’ for a period of four years, including training period.

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