Hyderabad : After more than nine hours and large-scale violence, police Friday evening cleared anti-“Agnipath” protestors from Secunderabad railway station.
The Railway, Hyderabad city police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) rounded up dozens of youth who had refused to leave the station till their demands for scrapping new armed forces recruitment policy “Agnipath” and for conduct of pending exams for army recruitment were met.
Several youths ran away after police started the arrests. Hundreds of policemen, however, remained deployed at the station to prevent protestors from re-entering the premises.
Earlier, top officials of railway and law and order police held talks with the youth to convince them to call off the protest. They offered to take a delegation to Army recruitment authorities for talks but the protesting youth were insisting that Army recruitment officials come to the station for the talks.
South Central Railway (SCR) suspended all train services on the route as a precautionary measure. More than 70 trains were cancelled.
One of the biggest railway stations in the country, Secunderabad was rocked by violence as the protestors went on rampage, setting afire trains or damaging them and vandalising the station.
One person was killed and four others were injured when police opened fire to control the protestors, who were pelting stones and targeting railway property. The protestors also dumped various goods being transported by a train on railway track and set them afire.
Two-wheelers, eggs, fish, documents and other items being transported were torched or damaged by the protestors.
According to eye-witnesses, more than 1,000 youth began the protest around 9 a.m. with a sit-in near the railway station. They were raising slogans against the Central government and demanding scrapping of “Agnipath”. Soon they started attacking buses of the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC).
The protestors then entered the railway station and began damaging the property. Railway police personnel deployed at the station were outnumbered by the protestors. Soon the violence spread to various platforms and the passengers ran out for safety.
Personnel of the Railway Protection Force, the Government Railway Police, the Hyderabad city police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) rushed to the station to bring the situation under control.
As the protestors continued to indulge in violence and pelted stones, the police retaliated with firing of rubber bullets and teargas shells.
Additional forces were rushed to the area which resembled a battle zone. SCR authorities cancelled all the trains. With the TSRTC buses also being targeted outside the station, the corporation suspended bus services in the area.
Raising slogans against the Central government, the protestors also torched bogies of four trains on the station, stalls, display boards and other railway property.
Four bogies of East Coast Express, Ajanta Express and Rajkot Express were partially burnt.
The protestors, who were raising slogans of ‘Jai jawan Jai kisan’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’, demanded that the government scrap the recently announced scheme and continue the existing system of recruitment.
The youth were angry that the government cancelled the recruitment examination for which they had been preparing for the last 3-4 years. They said their protest would continue till the Centre scraps the new scheme.
Following the large-scale violence, an alert was sounded at all railway stations in Telangana. Security was tightened at Nampally, Kacheguda and other railway stations in Hyderabad.
Forces were also rushed to Kazipet and Jangaon railway stations as a precautionary measure.