Kerala youths protest against Agnipath in Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode
Thiruvananthapuram, June 18, 2022
Several unemployed youth who have been waiting for jobs in the army staged protest marches in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode on Saturday against Agnipath, the new recruitment scheme for the Armed Forces announced by the Government earlier this week.
Most of the youths reached the state capital through information on WhatsApp groups and the march which started near the Thiruvananthapuram central railway station with around 500 people increased in size with several youths joining midway.
Police tried to dissuade the youths from participating in the march and were heard telling them not to get into criminal cases by marching towards the Kerala Raj Bhavan.
Amit, a 21-year-old youth from Kollam district who had come to Thiruvananthapuram for the march, told IANS, "I qualified in the physical test and was waiting for the written test. With the Agnipath, I think it is curtains down on my dreams and want the government to roll it back. I had come from Kollam to participate in the march after being alerted on WhatsApp by fellow job aspirants."
The youths later did pushups on the roadside near Raj Bhavan to demonstrate their solidarity and their interest in joining the armed forces. The march at Thiruvananthapuram later culminated near Raj Bhavan where police had set up barricades.
In North Kerala also protest marches were conducted with a large number of youths participating. Scores of youths participated in the protest march which was held in front of the Kozhikode railway station.
Ullas Kumar, 21, a youth who is an army aspirant and from Vadakara in Kozhikode district told IANS, "With Agnipath, the Armed Forces will turn into a stop gap arrangement for four years for a large majority and this will create a feeling of insecurity among youngsters. An Armed Force job has always been a dream and a passion with all the benefits. The government of India must roll back this scheme that will destroy the hopes of the youth as well as the Armed Forces."
However, the marches in Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode were non-violent just like in other places with the protesters just sloganeering against the policy and displaying their physical prowess by doing pushups.