Amidst massive protests, Indian Army issues notification for 'Agniveer' recruitment rally

News Network
June 20, 2022

New Delhi, June 20: The Indian Army on Monday issued a notification for the Agniveer recruitment rally and registrations for the recruitment will open from July onwards.

The Army on Sunday released terms and conditions and related details for prospective applicants wanting to join the force under the Agnipath military recruitment scheme despite massive protests across the country to roll back the scheme.

The Centre and security forces have firmly defended Agnipath as a means to reinvigorate the army. The personnel to be recruited under the new scheme will be known as 'Agniveers'.
The Army said 'Agniveers' would form a distinct rank in the Indian Army that will be different from any other existing ranks and they can be posted to any regiment and unit.

It said 'Agniveers' will be barred from disclosing classified information gained during the four-year service period to any unauthorised person or source under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

"With the introduction of this scheme, the enrolment of soldiers in the regular cadre of the Indian Army, except technical cadres of medical branch, will be available only to those personnel who have completed their engagement period as Agniveer," the Army said.

It said the release of an Agniveer at own request prior to completion of terms of engagement is not permitted.

"However, in most exceptional cases, personnel enrolled under this scheme may be released, if sanctioned by the competent authority," it said.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

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News Network
June 26,2022

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Strikes in Europe's transport sector have disrupted air flights and train schedules as transportation companies struggle to cope with rising demand at the start of the peak summer travel season after the COVID restrictions were lifted.

A strike by staff members at Irish airline Ryanair and Brussels Airlines over pay and working conditions forced the cancellation of a number of flights on Saturday.

The workers' strike also disrupted flight schedules in Spain, Italy, France, Portugal and Belgium.

Since Friday, low-budget airline Ryanair has been forced to cancel 127 flights, an airport spokeswoman told AFP on Saturday.

The walkout forced the cancellation of two flights between Lisbon and Brussels.

The airports at Bordeaux and Marseille said nine and 12 flights respectively would be cancelled on Sunday.

Ryanair flights were also cancelled in France. Damien Mourgues of the SNPNC union said 36 out of 80 flights had been cancelled because of a walk-out by air stewards.

In Belgium, the walkout meant that only 41 percent of Ryanair flights left Charleroi airport near Brussels on Saturday.

The situation in Belgium was further complicated by a three-day strike by Brussels Airlines staff ending on Saturday. The strike has forced the carrier, which is owned by German giant Lufthansa, to cancel about 300 out of 500 flights since

Adding to Europe's traveling problems, Austria Airlines said on Saturday it had had to cancel 52 out of 360 scheduled flights.

USO transport union in Spain said 75 flights from six different cities had been cancelled, noting that the striking staff had been replaced by workers brought in from Morocco, which it cited as a violation on Thursday.

Unions have called for EasyJet cabin crew based in Spain to strike for nine days in July as part of a dispute over pay.

The Swiss airline has already had to cancel thousands of flights this summer because of staff shortages at airports.

Staff shortage

The aviation sector is still struggling to recover from the COVID pandemic which led to staff-cuts as international travel was put on hold.

However, a rise in the number of COVID infections reported by Austria Airlines staff on Saturday led to the cancellation of its flights.

"Our crew members are sick, cases of infection are rising," an Austria Airlines spokeswoman told AFP.

Faced with staff shortages, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport was also forced to announce earlier this month that it would be limiting traveler numbers this summer and cancelling flights.

The shortages have already caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled, while huge queues have angered travelers.

In the UK, the railway system once again came to a halt on Saturday. 

Over the week, tens of thousands of workers have walked in Britain's biggest rail strike in 30 years, with millions of passengers facing days of chaos as both the unions and government have stuck to their guns in a row over pay.

The British transport union, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), threatened to continue the industrial action until managers address the workers' grievances, and meet their salary demands.

Despite the ongoing negotiations between representatives from the management and staff, media predicted the strikes to continue.

They attributed further industrial action to the rapidly rising inflation rates exacerbated by sluggish economic growth, saying this combo will likely lead to more workers' strikes across the European continent in the summer ahead.

Unions have said the rail strikes could mark the start of a "summer of discontent" with teachers, medics, waste disposal workers and even barristers heading for industrial action as inflation pushes 10%.

Inflation has soared across Europe on the back of a major rise in energy costs and Britain is not alone in facing strikes. 

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News Network
June 16,2022

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Patna, June 16: Trains were set afire, window panes of buses smashed and passersby, including a ruling BJP MLA, pelted with stones on Thursday in Bihar by Army job aspirants whose protest against the Centre's short-term recruitment scheme, 'Agnipath', continued for the second consecutive day.

Police fired teargas shells and charged baton to disperse the angry youngsters who blocked railway tracks, threw burning tyres on roads and performed push-ups and other drills on the streets as a mark of protest against the new recruitment process, under which hiring has been proposed for a four-year-period followed by compulsory retirement, for at least 75 per cent of the personnel, without any pension benefits.

In Nawada, the vehicle of BJP MLA Aruna Devi, who was on her way to a court, was attacked by the agitators who hurled stones at her car, leaving five persons, including the legislator, injured.

"The protesters seemed to have been provoked by the sight of the party flag, fitted on my car, which they tore. My driver, two security guards and two personal staff members have sustained injuries," the MLA told reporters, adding that she was "too shaken" to have registered a police complaint.

Railway property bore the brunt of the protesters as stationary bogeys were set on fire at Bhabhua and Chhapra stations and window panes of compartments smashed at many places.

In Arrah, the railway station was swarmed by a large number of protesters who were dispersed after the police fired teargas shells.

The East Central Railway zone, headquartered in Hajipur, reported massive disruption of rail traffic. Busy routes like Patna-Gaya, Barauni-Katihar and Danapur-DDU were listed among those worst-affected by the stir, officials said.

In Buxar, station manager Rajan Kumar said many trains were stranded at the outer signal as the tracks were blocked by agitators whom police and administrative officials were trying to pacify.

Demonstrations staged by the protesters disrupted road traffic in districts such as Jehanabad, Buxar, Katihar, Saran, Bhojpur and Kaimur, where many locals sustained injuries in incidents of stone-pelting, the officials said.

Details of police action, including FIRs registered in connection with the violence and arrests made in the connection, were not known immediately. 

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News Network
June 26,2022

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Chandigarh: The Aam Aadmi Party faced a huge setback in the Punjab by-elections on Sunday with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate Simranjit Singh Mann defeating the ruling party's candidate on a Lok Sabha seat held last by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

Simranjit Singh Mann beat his AAP rival Gurmail Singh by a margin of over 5,800 votes from the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, after a close fight between the two.

Simranjit Singh Mann, 77, is a former MP and the president of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) - not related to the larger Shiromani Akali Dal.

Congress candidate Dalvir Singh Goldy, BJP's Kewal Dhillon and the Akali Dal's Kamaldeep Kaur Rajoana were at the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively.

Counting of votes began at 8 am on Sunday amid tight security arrangements.

Sixteen candidates had appeared for the contest on June 23.

The bypoll to Sangrur Lok Sabha seat had witnessed a low turnout of 45.30 per cent as against 72.44 per cent polling in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 76.71 per cent in 2014 polls.

There were 15.69 lakh eligible voters this time.

The bypoll was necessitated due to the resignation of Bhagwant Mann from the Lok Sabha seat after he was elected as an MLA in the state assembly elections earlier this year.

Bhagwant Mann, who is the state's chief minister now, had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections.

The bypoll was the first major electoral battle after the Aam Aadmi Party's resounding victory in the state assembly polls in March this year.

For the ruling AAP, the bypoll was seen as a battle of prestige for retaining its bastion, while for opposition parties Congress, BJP and SAD were looking to register a victory after being decimated in the assembly polls.

The AAP fielded Singh, 38, who is the party's Sangrur district in-charge, while the Congress placed its bet on former Dhuri MLA Goldy.

The BJP fielded former Barnala MLA Dhillon who joined the party early this month.

Sangrur parliamentary constituency is considered the bastion of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which won all the nine assembly segments -- Lehra, Dirba, Barnala, Sunam, Bhadaur, Mehal Kalan, Malerkotla, Dhuri and Sangrur in the 2022 assembly elections.

Bhagwant Mann had won the Sangrur seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls after defeating SAD candidate Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa with a margin of 2.11 lakh votes.

Mr Mann again contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Sangrur and won it by a margin of 1.10 lakh votes after defeating Congress party's Kewal Dhillon.

While the opposition parties -- Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP - assailed the AAP for an alleged deteriorating law and order situation, murder of popular singer Sidhu Moosewala and "unfulfilled" poll promises, the ruling party focused on its promises of eradicating corruption, creating jobs, improving the condition of schools and hospitals, and paving the way for a "Rangla (vibrant) Punjab" again.

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