Railway property was extensively targeted by protesters in Bihar and Telangana, causing widespread panic among passengers. Several coaches of at least 10 trains were set on fire and railway stations were vandalised.
In Telangana, 18-year-old Damodara Rakesh was killed and 13 others were injured after Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police opened fire in the morning to stop a violent mob of hundreds of youths that had barged in at the busy Secunderabad railway station for a ‘rail roko’ protest. The violent youths set fire to four bogeys even before RPF could mobilise its men. Damodara, who was shot in the waist, died while being shifted to Gandhi Hospital. Another youth, who sustained bullet injury in the chest, is battling for life.
In Bihar’s Lakhisarai, a 40-year-old unidentified man who fell unconscious in a bogey of Janseva Express after it was set afire, died in hospital during treatment.
Railway officials told TOI that the protesters started pelting stones at the trains parked across all 10 Secunderabad platforms as soon as they entered the station and set ablaze the luggage van of the Howrah-bound East Coast Express. Later, the bogeys of Falaknuma Express and Rajkot Express and eight locomotives at the station were set on fire. Protesters also threw entire stalls and bikes on the tracks to disrupt train movement. Caught unawares, thousands of passengers ran from the station, some of them leaving their belongings behind.
Protesters alleged that railway police fired at them without a warning. “They shot at us randomly,” said Vamsi Krishna Reddy, 19, a protester from Mahboobnagar who was grazed by a bullet on the leg.
In Bihar, where hundreds of youths poured onto railway tracks and streets from early morning, several bogeys of at least six trains were set on fire at Lakhisarai, Fatuha, Islampur, Danapur and Kulharia. Besides, window panes of several other trains were damaged in stone-pelting in Ara, Buxar and Khagaria districts.
Vehicular movement came to a halt as hundreds of students blocked the NH-139 at Arwal, NH-727 and Rajbara Gumti road at Begusarai and GT Road in Aurangabad. Several school buses were set on fire at Daudnagar in Aurangabad. A fire brigade vehicle that went to control fire at Daudnagar was also destroyed by the furious mob.
Protesters also vandalised the houses of deputy CM Renu Devi and BJP’s state president Dr Sanjay Jaiswal in Bettiah besides the party’s offices in Lakhisarai and Sasaram.
As protests spilled over most parts of Bihar, the Nitish Kumar government in the evening ordered suspension of internet in 15 districts till June 19 and deployment of 10 additional companies of paramilitary forces. RJD and the Left parties have extended their support to a bandh called by various youth and student unions on Saturday against the Agnipath scheme.
In UP, 260 people were arrested, more than 100 in Ballia alone where youths set an empty train coach at the railway station on fire. The protests spread to new districts in UP on the third day as protesting youths set ablaze a part of Jattari police outpost and a vehicle inside the outpost premises in Aligarh. Among other places, UPSRTC buses were targeted in Firozabad, Agra and Varanasi while the Delhi-Agra highway was blocked in Mathura amid heavy brickbating. There were reports of protests from Kushinagar, Deoria, Gonda, Amethi, and Sitapur also.
In Haryana, protests spilled over to more districts, forcing the local administration to impose prohibitory orders at many places. With Ballabgarh emerging as the new epicentre, police had to resort to use of force to disperse the agitating youths who started pelting them with stones and tried to damage government and private vehicles. After Jind and Rohtak, which have been on the boil since Wednesday, the agitation spread to Charkhi Dadri, Jhajjar, Sonipat, Bhiwani, Mahendergarh, Rewari, Hisar, Sirsa, Fatehabad, and some pockets of Yamunanagar and Kaithal districts.
Protests turned violent in Sikar and Bharatpur in Rajasthan where youths vandalized railway stations and attacked policemen.
In Madhya Pradesh, protests erupted in Indore when hundreds of youngsters, their faces covered, blocked trains at Laxmibai Nagar station and hurled brickbats at cops. Three policemen, including two officers, were injured in the violence. In the military township of Mhow, the administration had imposed Section 144 on Thursday night and set up checkpoints to keep out protesters.