The Railways suffered losses worth Rs 259.44 crore during protests against the Agnipath scheme in June, the Centre told Parliament on Friday.

Union Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw made the statement in the Rajya Sabha in response to a question by Marumalarachi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary Vaiko.

The Agnipath scheme was announced by the government on June 14. Under this scheme, citizens aged between 17-and-a-half to 21 years are eligible to apply for four-year service in the armed forces. Of these recruits, 25% will be eligible to apply as regular personnel after they complete their four-year service.

Protestors have been demanding permanent recruitment under the regular process, along with pension and other retirement benefits that are not part of the scheme.

During the agitation that immediately followed the announcement of the scheme, protestors in several states had torched and vandalised railway property. The East Central Railway, which covers Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh, had suffered the brunt of the violence.

On Friday, the minister said that 2,132 trains were cancelled across the country from June 15 to June 23.

“Separate data regarding amount of refund granted to passengers due to disruption of rail services on account of public disorder consequent to agitations like those held after launching of Agnipath, is not maintained,” Vaishnaw told the Rajya Sabha. “However, during the period 14.06.2022 to 30.06.2022, a total refund of approximately Rs 102.96 crore was granted on account of cancellation of trains.”

Protests against the scheme disrupted train services at 62 places, the railways minister said.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court transferred three petitions challenging the scheme to the Delhi High Court.

Petitions on the matter have also been filed in the High Courts of Delhi, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Patna and Uttarakhand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.