Agnipath protests turned violent in Bihar on Tuesday as protestors, demanding reservation in jobs, clashed with the police and targeted railway property, which left several trains delayed and disrupted rail traffic between Patna and New Delhi. The protestors damaged railway property worth nearly Rs 700 crore in Patna, Muzaffarpur, Arrah and Danapur, according to reports. 718 protestors were arrested in connection with the violence by the end of Tuesday.
Widespread Protest : Agnipath Protests
In Bihar, a state with one of India’s poorest records of human development, farmers protesting against low crop prices have damaged railway property worth nearly Rs 700 crore. Since June 2016, agnipaths — protests involving damage to public or private property — have occurred more than 100 times across 25 districts in Bihar. While agnipaths over land are well-known, so too are those over caste: Caste-based riots claimed 10 lives in Muzaffarpur last year, for example. What is surprising is how little we know about agnipaths across all kinds of issues: Why do they happen? And what makes some violent while others remain peaceful?
Railways Property Worth Nearly Rs 700 Crore Destroyed
Agnipath protesters, who are demanding reservation under OBC category, damaged railway property worth nearly Rs 700 crore during their protest on Sunday. Over seven hundred protesters were arrested. They allegedly attacked railway employees, vandalised station buildings at several places. Hundreds of agitators also blocked trains by lying on rail tracks near Gaya and Patna junction on Sunday.
718 Held; Damage Incalculable in Agnipath Protests
More than seven hundred people were arrested during protests against two controversial Agnipath biopics that portray Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an unflattering light. The railway station at Patna was set on fire, along with several other railway-owned properties across three states. In response to these widespread damages, all services between Delhi and Patna have been suspended until further notice. There is no official word yet on a scheduled restart time for trains, but it is estimated that commuters will have to wait at least twenty-four hours before traveling back through Agnipath territory.
For the Record
Railroad officials said they were grateful to passengers for remaining calm, but they were angry with protestors. We understand their cause, one official said, but that doesn’t give them a right to destroy other people’s property. Protestors often find themselves battling a PR problem of their own—the Indian Railways runs more than 11,000 trains every day that serve millions of passengers; as such it can be difficult for people to understand why agnipaths choose to protest on railroad tracks instead of making their voices heard elsewhere. But activists point out that rail lines occupy a relatively small portion of India’s vast landscape. As long as there are so many alternative spaces from which activists can demonstrate peacefully, why would they use railroad lines? Read more news at Storify News.