As many as 46 people have been arrested in connection with the arson and violence at the Secunderabad Railway Station on June 17 for protesting against ‘Agnipath’, a recruitment scheme for the armed forces, said a senior official of the Government Railway Police (GRP) here on Sunday.
The protesters were allegedly provoked by some of the army recruitment coaching academies for the violence, said Anuradha, Superintendent of Police, GRP to reporters. Initially, about 300 people entered the station through gate number 3, she said.
Eventually, the number swelled to 2,000 and some of them carried sticks, rods, and petrol cans, damaging railway property and burning coaches besides pelting stones at the police, the official said.
As they attempted to burn the locomotives, she said, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel opened fire in the air and cautioned the protesters not to torch the engines. As many as 20 rounds were fired, she said.
To save the lives of the public, the passengers, the police and the protesters, the RPF personnel opened fire at the mob, the superintendent of police said.
In the firing, a 24-year-old man died and 13 others were injured after security personnel opened fire to control the mob on the rampage at the station.
Inquiry revealed that the youth were selected in a physical test for the recruitment in the army and were ready for the written test which was postponed six times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
After the Agnipath scheme was announced by the central government, the army aspirants approached the academies to undergo training, but were misguided by them, she said.
It was reported that the academies instructed the army aspirants that they would get a solution if they take the matter to the notice of central government by indulging in violence like in Bihar, Anuradha said.
To achieve that, the protesters formed social media groups through which they circulated messages about Agnipath by saying it may lead to loss to their employment prospects in the army, the official said.
Accordingly, the protesters circulated messages in different social media groups on June 16 to attack central government organisations, mainly railway stations, she said.
Later, the agitated army aspirants assembled at the Secunderabad Railway Station at 8:30 AM on June 17 with the sole aim of targeting it, she said, adding that they subsequently indulged in vandalism at the station.
There is a major conspiracy by army recruitment coaching academies, she said. Investigation is on to find out the real conspirators, instigators and defence academy owners, the police official said. Asked about an ex-army man, now running an academy training aspiring recruits and was apprehended on Saturday by the Andhra Pradesh police for allegedly being the mastermind of the violence, the police official said, “We are inquiring…details are awaited. Once his role is established, he will be arrested.”
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