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During a protest against the Agnipath programme in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, a mob vandalises a train.

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During a protest against the Agnipath programme in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, a mob vandalises a train.

During a protest against the Centre’s Agnipath recruitment plan, a mob vandalised a train at the Ballia railway station in Uttar Pradesh on Friday morning.

Protesters set fire to tyres to stop traffic, a train station in Chhapra was vandalised, and passenger trains were blocked in numerous locations, causing the railways to cancel 30 passenger trains and delay another 40 by several hours. To disperse protesters, police used lathicharge and tear gas shells in a number of locations.

Angry protests erupted throughout seven Indian states on Thursday, from Uttarakhand in the north to Bihar in the east and Madhya Pradesh in the centre.

To disperse the mob, police officers have been stationed at the station.

In Bihar, train bogies were set on fire in three districts, two BJP legislators, Aruna Devi and CN Gupta, were assaulted in separate instances, and a BJP office in Madhubani was set on fire.

A total of 180 persons were hurt. Even as the government sought to reassure agitators, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced criticism from various Opposition parties and its ally Janata Dal (United), which rules Bihar, the location of the most violent protests, in a coalition.

The protesters were enraged by the new scheme’s changes, particularly the length of service and the lack of pension provisions for those released early, as well as the fact that lowering the age limit to 21 would have effectively eliminated many of the aspirants considering the recruitment was already underway.

Some veterans expressed concerns about the incoming recruits’ combat readiness, motivation, and whether the promise of a brief assignment may make them risk cautious.

At least two dozen First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed against protestors, according to Additional Director General (Law and Order) Sanjay Singh, while at least 15 police officers were hurt in stone pelting. Birendra Kumar, a spokesman for Eastern Railway, said train operation has returned to normal.

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