After relaxing the upper age limit of recruitment into the armed forces under the scheme Agnipath yesterday, the Narendra Modi government made another attempt to quell the violent protests against the plan with the announcement of a 10% reservation for Agniveers released from service after four years in paramilitary forces and the Assam Rifles.
The government announced the decision through a tweet on the official handle of the home minister’s office. “The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) decides to reserve 10% vacancies for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles for Agniveers.”
In a second tweet, the HMO announced also a relaxation of the upper age limit for Agnipath recruits. While three years of age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit was announced for Agniveers wanting to get recruited in CAPFs & Assam Rifles for the first batch, the age relaxation will be for five years beyond the prescribed upper age limit, MHA said.
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Welcoming the move, retired Maj Gen Rajesh Arya said this would lift the overall level of personnel in the paramilitary forces. “There is criticism that how can a person who isn’t fit enough to be absorbed in the Army be fit enough for the Assam Rifles, which is also an organisation at par with the Army. To this, I wish to say that those Agniveers who don’t get absorbed in the Army after four years are not unfit. It is just that the Army’s openings may be X and the total personnel available may be X+10. It is a great decision to absorb the remaining into paramilitary. They will lift the overall level in the CAPFs,” the army veteran said on television.
Officials in the paramilitary forces say that they are still awaiting clarity on how the reservation would be done. The options are to award extra points to those who have the Agnipath experience or make all Agniveers compete amongst themselves for 10% of the total seats that are available.
Officials say, given the fact that the paramilitary forces are mostly on civilian duties, the Agniveers will have to be trained afresh when they join. “Paramilitary personnel undergo a training of 11 months or so. Agniveers will have to be trained in those SOPs of civilian duties. But the physical fitness, weapon training and discipline which they would bring to the table after the Agniveer training will be an added advantage,” a paramilitary official said about the second concession given by the government in the Agnipath scheme.