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‘Agnipath’ Protest: Rly Official Narrates How Train Passengers Were Rescued from Mob at Secunderabad Station

A policeman stands near a train coach set ablaze at the Secunderabad railway station on Friday. (Image: PTI Photo)

A policeman stands near a train coach set ablaze at the Secunderabad railway station on Friday. (Image: PTI Photo)

Railway officials said they managed to rescue 40 passengers from an air-conditioned coach of a passenger train even as a mob hurled petrol bombs and boulders inside

Secunderabad became the epicentre of the ‘Agnipath’ agitation on Friday as a mob targeted a Kharagpur-bound passenger train, waiting on a platform of the city’s railway station. Railway officials said they managed to rescue 40 passengers from an air-conditioned coach even as agitators hurled petrol bombs and boulders inside.

After Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, the agitation against the new military recruitment policy spread to the southern state of Telangana on the third consecutive day. A person was killed and 15 injured after a mob set ablaze several trains and damaged public property. In other parts of the country, trains were set afire, public and police vehicles attacked and personnel injured.

At the Secunderabad railway station, eyewitnesses reported that close to 5,000 people attacked a train waiting on a platform, pelting it with stones and by lobbing petrol bombs inside. A railway official said all the doors of the A1 (air-conditioned) coach were jammed to keep passengers safe, and they were evacuated onto the opposite side.

News18 got access to exclusive visuals of the wreckage. In the coach that came under attack, there was large-scale damage in the form of smashed windows and burnt seats. Passengers seemed to have fled leaving behind personal belongings, as clothes and student notes were spotted strewn all over.

Suman Kumar Sharma, who is an AC power car mechanic, said there were approximately 40 passengers inside the coach when it came under attack. The mob tried setting the train on fire, pointing at remains of a petrol bomb and burnt seats.

“We were engaged in rescuing passengers, they left behind their belongings like suitcases. There is glass all over the floor,” Sharma, who oversaw the evacuation, said.

He added: “They tried burning the train with petrol bombs. There were 40 passengers inside the compartment when it was attacked. We put our lives at risk to rescue passengers.”

Sharma further said the mob outnumbered police personnel. “We managed to save the AC (air conditioning) otherwise it would have been a catastrophe. But, the parcel van was completely burnt,” he added.

Sharma said he told the passengers that “the RPF (Railway Police) will keep you safe”.

The mob at the Secunderabad railway station shouted slogans against the Centre demanding normal recruitment of army jobs, South Central Railway sources said. The agitators pelted the train with stones and set a parcel coach of a passenger train on fire, they added.

Sources further said some stalls in the railway station suffered damage. The agitators pulled out cargo from the parcel coach and dumped it on the tracks and set fire leading to disruption of some train services. The identity of the agitators was yet to be established, they added.

The Agnipath scheme unveiled by the defence ministry is a pan-India merit-based recruitment scheme for enrolling soldiers, airmen and sailors. Under the scheme, young persons will be provided an opportunity to serve in the armed forces as ‘Agniveer’ for a period of four years, including training period.

(With PTI inputs)

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first published:June 17, 2022, 18:26 IST