Anger, arson and violence: How coaching centres fuelled Agnipath outrage

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Amid raging anger across the country over the Agnipath scheme, the police have hinted at a conspiracy angle, which might explain why some states like Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are bearing the brunt of arson and violence. As police dig deep into the cause of the violence and investigate the bigger question of who is behind the Agnipath violence, the role of coaching institutes has come to light.

A vehicle is set on fire by the protesters at Danapur Railway Station.

A vehicle is set on fire by the protesters at Danapur Railway Station.

Flames erupt from a train that is set on fire by protesters.

Protestors pelt stones during Bihar Bandh.

A vehicle set on fire by protestors during the Bihar Bandh.

In Bihar, several coaching centres across Patna, Masaurhi, Paliganj and Maner are under police radar based on mobile phone data, along with video and voice clips. Patna DM Chandrashekar Singh said the role of these coaching institutes in instigating the youth to participate in the violent clashes is being ascertained. Speaking to news agencies, he revealed that the police have found videos and WhatsApp messages of these coaching centres from those who have been arrested, which point towards vested interests by a certain lobby.  The probe is underway to ascertain the role of coaching centres based on that content. If their role is proven in the investigation, they will face action. 

An FIR has also been filed against two coaching centres in Bihar after violence broke out at Taregna railway station on Saturday. Another police officer, speaking on the account of anonymity to news agencies, revealed that out of 700 protestors in Bihar have been identified and arrested in the last three days. He added that some of these protestors had also been a part of the agitation against Railway NTPC exams in January.

In Andhra Pradesh, the arrest of Avula Subba Rao has pointed toward the link between coaching centres and the agitation against Agnipath violence. Subba Rao is a retired havaldar of the Army who runs several coaching centres in Narasaraopet, Hyderabad and seven other places. Under scanner for being the mastermind behind the Secunderabad violence, Subba Rao allegedly sent provocative messages a day ahead of the violence in Secunderabad. Along with Subba Rao, the police have also detained people from Adoni, Kurnool, Nellore, Visakhapatnam and other areas in connection with the violence.

False information is also being spread via news-based YouTube like Sach Tak. PIB did a fact check on one such video and clarified that the army would not be inducting recruits via private agencies. In one of the videos, a coaching operator allegedly says, “If you want to show passion, masculinity and daring, you show it in front of the government, not your parents.” Several teachers, who are under the scanner of the police for their provocative videos, have also backtracked and alleged that they are being framed.

Lt General Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Department Of Military Affairs, speaking on vandalism in a press briefing on Sunday, hinted at the role of coaching centres in inciting violence. He stated that every Agniveer will have to submit a certificate that they were not a part of protest or vandalism, adding that no one would be able to join the army without police verification. 

As Anti-Agnipath sentiment singed protestors, public properties were destroyed, train coaches were torched, shops were attacked, highways and roads were blocked across several states.

While there is no official account of total losses incurred due to damage to public and private properties in the Agniveer violence, Danapur Rail Division Prabhat Kumar has said that vandalism incidents in railway premises have led to losses of over Rs 200 crore. About 50 coaches and 5 engines were completely burnt and went out of service. Platforms, computers and various technical parts were damaged and some trains were cancelled.