As thousands protested against the new Indian military recruitment system, trains were set ablaze.
After young people stormed the streets and damaged government buildings, police used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrations in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar.
After demonstrations spread to eight districts and a dozen cities, nearly 25,000 police officers were deployed in Bihar, which is the most affected area in the east.
Protesters blocked roads, attacked railway property, and trains were set on fire, rail tracks were damaged, and a station vandalized.
In Nawada, the state, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), office was also set on fire.
The government plans to launch a new job programme that would allow the armed forces 46,000 non-officer-level recruits, but only for four-years.
Only 25% will be retained after that, while the remaining 75% won’t be eligible for pension benefits.
Soldiers were previously recruited separately by the army, navy, and air force. They typically serve for 17 years at the lowest ranks.
Potential recruits are worried about the shorter tenure.
“Where are we going after four years of hard work?” One young man was surrounded by protestors in Bihar’s Jehanabad. After four years of service, we will be homeless. We have clogged the roads.
Rajnath Singh, the defence minister, defended the plans and stated that they are meant to “strengthen security in the country”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is under pressure from his government to create employment in India after the recovery from the pandemic.
One reason for short-term military recruiting is that people who are trained in the forces may later be able to seek employment in the private sector or in the police force.
Some retired soldiers and leaders of the opposition have criticized the government that will be facing a general election 2024.
“I thought it was a pilot trial,” GD Bakshi (retired army general) wrote on Twitter.
“This is a broad-based change to convert Indian Armed Forces to a short-term quasi-conscript force.”
Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress Party, called on the government to listen to the voices of the youth unemployed in the county.
A railway station in Gwalior, central India was vandalized and trains set on fire.
According to reports, the police used wooden sticks and batons to disperse protestors who blocked a bus station as well as a section of a highway that links Rajasthan with New Delhi.