Sixty train coaches and property worth about Rs 700 crore have been burnt in Bihar in the past four days by those protesting against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme, India Today reported.
Protestors also burnt 11 train engines, set fire to stalls at stations and vandalised other railway property, the channel reported, citing a spokesperson for the East Central Railways.
Since Wednesday, protests have taken place in several states against the Agnipath scheme, which provides for short-term recruitment into the armed forces. The scheme was announced by the government on Tuesday.
The protestors are demanding permanent recruitment under the regular process as well as pension and other retirement benefits that are not a part of the Agnipath scheme.
Chief Public Relations Officer Virendra Kumar said that estimates of the damage caused to railway property are still being made and that the Railways are in the process of preparing a full report.
The East Central Railway said that 362 trains have been cancelled and two trains have been terminated on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Railways cancelled 369 trains across the country because of the agitation, PTI reported. Two more trains were partially cancelled.
“To ensure safety and security of passengers and railway property, trains originating in other zones will ply through ECR [East Central Railway zone] only after 8 pm on Saturday and continue till 4 am on Sunday,” Kumar said. “Movement of such trains will be restored at 8 PM on Sunday.”
The Bihar Police have arrested a total of 718 persons in connection with the violence since Thursday, The Indian Express reported. Twenty-five cases have been registered.
On Saturday, Union Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that rail property belongs to the country and urged protestors not to damage it. “The government is listening to your [protestors’] grievances with sensitivity,” he said. “Taking part in discussions is the appropriate approach for any situation.”