The protest by hundreds of youth against the Centre’s new Army recruitment policy Agnipath continued at Secunderabad railway station on Friday.
Insisting that the government announce scrapping of the new policy, the protesters remained squatted on the railway track for more than six hours.
Top officials of railway and law and order police were holding talks with the youth to convince them to call off the protest. They offered to take a delegation to Army recruitment authorities for talks but the protesting youth were insisting that Army recruitment officials come to the station for the talks.
“We will not leave this place till our demands are met. We are ready to sit for three days and even a week,” said one of the protesters.
South Central Railway (SCR) officials said they have suspended all train services on the route as a precautionary measure.
One of the biggest railway stations in the country, Secunderabad was rocked by violence as the youth went on rampage, setting fire to trains or damaging them and vandalising the station.
A person was killed and four others were injured when police opened fire to control the protesters, who were pelting stones and targeting railway property. They also dumped various goods being transported by a train on the railway track and set them afire.
Two-wheelers, eggs, fish, documents and other items being transported were torched or damaged by the protesters.
According to eye-witnesses, more than 1,000 youth began the protest around 9 a.m. with a sit-in near the railway station. They were raising slogans against the Central government and demanding scrapping of Agnipath. Soon they started attacking buses of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC).
The protesters then entered the railway station and began damaging the property. Railway police personnel deployed at the station were outnumbered by the protesters. Soon the violence spread to various platforms and the passengers ran out for safety.
Personnel of Railway Protection Force, Government Railway Police, Hyderabad city police and Rapid Action Force (RAF) rushed to the station to bring the situation under control.
As the protesters continued to indulge in violence and pelted stones, the police retaliated with firing of rubber bullets and teargas shells.
Additional forces were rushed to the area which resembled a battle zone. SCR authorities cancelled all the trains. With the TSRTC buses also being targeted outside the station, the corporation suspended bus services in the area.
Raising slogans against the central government, the agitators also torched bogies of four trains on the station, stalls, display boards and other railway property.
Four bogies of East Coast Express, Ajanta Express and Rajkot Express were partially burnt.
The protesters, who were raising slogans of “Jai jawan Jai kisan” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, demanded that the government scrap the recently announced scheme and continue the existing system of recruitment.
The youth were angry that the government cancelled the recruitment examination for which they had been preparing for the last 3-4 years. They said their protest would continue till the Centre scraps the new scheme.
Following the large-scale violence, an alert was sounded at all railway stations in Telangana. Security was tightened at Nampally, Kacheguda and other railway stations in Hyderabad.
Forces were also rushed to Kazipet and Jangaon railway stations as a precautionary measure.