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Amid raging protests, Bihar stops train services

Amid raging protests, Bihar stops train services
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Patna: A railway station and a police vehicle were torched and several law enforcers injured in stone-pelting incidents on the fourth consecutive day of protests against the Agnipath scheme on Saturday when a bandh was also called to press for the demand for the rollback of the new scheme for recruitment in the armed forces. In the capital city, bandh supporters were restrained by police from forcing shops to down their shutters, but they registered their protest by performing push-ups on the roads and scampering away after hurling stones at commercial establishments.

On the outskirts, bandh supporters set fire to Taregana railway station in Masaurhi sub-division of Patna district and torched a jeep belonging to the GRP.

They also exchanged gunshots with GRP personnel, engaged in heavy stone-pelting and beat up journalists covering the clash.

"Police and RPF have been deployed in Masaurhi. We have, so far, no information of anybody getting injured in the violence there," RPF DIG, East Central Railway (ECR) S Mayank told reporters.

In Danapur sub-division, bandh supporters vandalised an ambulance as the driver alleged that a patient and attendants inside were also beaten up by the mob.

State police chief, DGP S K Singhal, toured the Patna Junction and took stock of the security arrangements there.

The ECR headquarters in Hajipur said that in view of the prevailing situation, 32 trains have been cancelled.

"To ensure safety and security of passengers and railway property, trains originating in other zones will be plied through ECR only after 8 pm on Saturday and continue till 4 am on Sunday. Movement of such trains will be restored at 8 pm on Sunday," said ECR Chief Public Relations Officer Virendra Kumar.

The Railways cancelled 369 trains on Saturday due to the agitation against the Agnipath scheme, officials said. These include 210 mail/express and 159 local passenger trains.

The Railways has also partially cancelled two mail/express trains, thus the total number of trains affected during the day is 371, the officials said. Notably, the railways have suffered massive losses in the state during protests in the last three days. The Union Home ministry has accorded a VIP security cover of the CRPF to at least 10 Bihar BJP legislators and leaders in view of threats posed to them by those protesting against the recently launched military recruitment scheme, officials said on Saturday.

Those provided the Y category cover include Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi, state BJP president and Paschim Champaran MP Sanjay Jaiswal, Bisfi MLA Haribhushan Thakur, Darbhanga MLA Sanjay Saraogi and some others.

Earlier, bandh supporters had attacked a police outpost in Jehanabad district, leaving several personnel injured. In Munger, shops remained open although bandh supporters burned tyres on roads, amid heavy police presence.

A large police contingent was deployed in front of the state headquarters of the BJP, which has been at the receiving end of the protests, with many of its senior leaders having been physically attacked and its offices in at least three districts being set ablaze since Thursday.

"We can say that the bandh has had a negligible effect on normal life. Barring stray incidents, peace has prevailed across the state," said Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishor Prasad, who is also the party's leader in the Assembly.

Large-scale violence in the past few days has led to the suspension of Internet services, barring the ones controlled by the government, in 12 severely affected districts of the state. A Home department notification said the restrictions will remain effective for at least three days. Prohibitory orders have also been clamped in a number of towns as a preventive measure.

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