Indian police officials said on Saturday that authorities have shut down internet services in several parts of the eastern state of Bihar in a bid to put an end to violent rallies and protests over a military conscription scheme.
The government said the Agnipat system, which means path of fire, aims to bring more personnel into the military on four-year contracts to cut the average lifespan of the armed forces’ 1.38 million soldiers and reduce rising pension costs.
The demonstrators, mostly young men, say the plan will limit access to permanent jobs in the defense forces, which guarantee fixed salaries, pensions and other benefits.
Many took to the streets in Bihar, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal to protest the plan.
Sanjay Singh, a senior Bihar police official, announced the blocking of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp in 15 out of the state’s 38 districts, where protesters burned commuter trains and buses last week to express their anger.
In Uttar Pradesh, police arrested at least 250 people under so-called preventive detentions. Some protesters accused the police of using excessive force.