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The Hindu
The Hindu
P Sridhar

Tearful adieu to Rakesh

Amid poignant scenes, the last rites of Damera Rakesh, 21, who was killed in Friday’s incident of police firing during the violent protests by scores of army job aspirants against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for the armed forces at Secunderabad railway station, were performed at his native Dabeerpet village in Khanapur mandal of Warangal district on Saturday.

The funeral was preceded by a 60-km-long procession from the MGM hospital in Warangal to Dabeerpur via Narsampet that witnessed an outpouring of grief and anguish from the mourners.

A daylong bandh was observed in Narsampet Assembly constituency in protest against the “police firing”. Shops downed shutters and the TSRTC buses remained off the road during the bandh in the constituency.

Panchayat Raj Minister E Dayakar Rao, Tribal Welfare Minister Satyavathi Rathod, Mahabubabad MP Maloth Kavitha, Government Chief Whip D Vinay Bhaskar among a host of TRS MLAs and MLCs took part in the funeral procession.

Slogans against the BJP government at the Centre and the Agnipath scheme rented the air during the procession that followed the funeral vehicle tied with black and pink flags.

Earlier, tension prevailed in Warangal when a section of angry mourners set ablaze the flexi board of the BSNL office at Pochamma Maidan and hurled stones at the windowpanes of the building. Police foiled their bid to barge into the BSNL office building.

Police allegedly resorted to mild caning to disperse a group of angry protesters who tried to force their way into the railway station in Warangal.

Poolamma, the grief stricken mother of Rakesh was inconsolable during the funeral of her son.

A sobbing Poolamma said her son always dreamt of becoming a soldier (jawan) in the Indian Army. He worked arduously and underwent coaching against all odds and finally cleared the physical and medical tests at the army recruitment rally a couple of months ago, Poolamma, a farm labourer, recalled with teary eyes.

Rakesh was inspired by his elder sister, who is serving in the Central Armed Police Force, to join the Indian Army, said an army job aspirant of Narsampet.

He was anxiously waiting for the Common Entrance Examination (CEE), which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, to realise his dream, but the launch of Agnipath scheme left him terribly upset, the close associate of Rakesh said.

Emotions ran high during the funeral of Rakesh as the mourners including scores of the ruling TRS cadre shouted slogans against the Agnipath scheme and the Narendra Modi dispensation at the Centre.

Earlier, speaking to mediapersons, Mr Dayakar Rao demanded that the Centre withdraw the Agnipath scheme and Prime Minister Narendra Modi resign immediately.

He said Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao announced ₹25 lakh ex-gratia and a job to the bereaved family of the deceased army job aspirant.

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