Farmers, ‘khap’ panchayats join stir in Haryana against Agnipath scheme

The agitation against the Central government’s Agnipath recruitment scheme continued for a second day on Friday, with protesters blocking roads and railway tracks in parts of Haryana, largely close to the National Capital Region (NCR), farmers’ organisations and khap panchayats (community courts) joining the stir.

Anticipating violence, the government has suspended internet services in Faridabad district’s Ballabgarh, whereas prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, restricting gathering of more than four persons, have been imposed in Gurugram.

The protests were largely reported from Rohtak, Jhajjar, Narnaul, Faridabad, Rewari, Charkhi Dadri and Gurugram districts.

The government has defended the scheme, calling it “transformative”.

Farm activists led by BKU (Chadhuni) state chief Gurnam Singh Chadhuni began one-day fast-cum-protest in front of the BJP headquarters in Rohtak.

Describing the Agnipath scheme anti-national and a threat to the country’s security, Chadhuni demanded its immediate withdrawal. He, however, appealed to the youth not to resort to suicide or indulge in violence.

Hooda khap president Om Prakash Hooda also reached the protest site and extended their support to the protesters.

Stating that staging protests is a democratic right but violence will not be tolerated, Home Minister Anil Vij said, “Those found involved in violence will not be spared.”

Vij was categorically clear in saying that specific directions have already been issued to deal with the situation. “Rioters are being identified and appropriate action will be taken, ” he added.

Protesters blocked the railway tracks in Narwana in Jind district and stopped a goods and a passenger train, prompting heavy deployment of the security personnel.

According to the Home Department, there is a likelihood of “tension, annoyance, obstruction or injury to persons, danger to human life and property, disturbance of public peace and tranquility” in Ballabgarh sub-division by the agitated protesters.

In order to stop the spread of disinformation and rumours through various social media platforms, the government has been directed to suspend mobile, internet, and SMS services and all dongle service in the territorial jurisdiction of subdivision Ballabgarh.

For Thursday’s protest in Palwal district, the police have booked more than 1, 000 people for violence. Three first information reports have been registered under several sections of the Indian Penal Code.