Mockery of the government by supporters who said on social media there was no point defending the Agnipath military recruitment scheme, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi would withdraw it after some time, as he did with the agriculture reform laws, seems to have worked. As violent protests against the union government’s Agnipath military recruitment scheme entered the fifth day today, subsiding, opposition parties continued to attack the government and demand a rollback but the Narendra Modi dispensation held its ground. Not only did the government reach out to the people with clarifications, concessions and compromises — issuing a WhatsApp number for fact-checking against rumour-mongering — it made it clear the scheme will be rolled out, come what may.
At a tri-service media briefing in the afternoon, defence ministry officials gave out further details on how the scheme will be kick-started.
Those named in FIR for vandalism against Agnipath cannot join
Agnipath aspirants will have to furnish a certificate that they were not involved in violent protest or arson, said Lt Gen Anil Puri, additional secretary, Dept of Military Affairs, MoD. Speaking at a tri-service media briefing, he said police verification of applicants will be done, and those named in FIR will not be considered for Agnipath.
The officer said reforms in the recruitment process for armed forces are long pending, and are aimed at bringing down the average age of the forces. He asserted that there will be no rollback of the scheme.
Vice Admiral Dinesh Tripathi said that women too can join the Agnipath scheme for enlistment with the Navy. “Indian Navy has 30 women officers at present sailing on different Indian Navy ships. We have decided that under the Agnipath scheme, we will recruit women also. They will be deployed on warships also,” he said.
From 21 November this year, the first naval Agniveers will start reaching the training establishment INS Chilka in Odisha, he added.
INC holds ‘satyagraha’, says Agnipath will ‘finish army’
The former president of the Indian National Congress (INC), Rahul Gandhi, who turned 53 today, asked his supporters to refrain from celebrating his birthday as the youth are sad. The appeal comes in the backdrop of wide protest against the Agnipath scheme. In an appeal, he said, “I appeal to all Congress workers and my well-wishers across the country not to hold any kind of celebrations on the occasion of my birthday.”
Rahul Gandhi today launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said by repeatedly giving false hope of jobs, he has forced the youth to walk on ‘Agnipath’ of unemployment. He said 16 crore jobs were to be given in eight years, but the youth only got knowledge on “frying pakoras”. “By repeatedly giving false hope of jobs, the prime minister has forced the youth of the country to walk on the ‘Agnipath’ of unemployment,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
“In 8 years, 16 crore jobs were to be given but the youth only got knowledge on frying pakoras,” the former Congress chief said. Only the prime minister is responsible for this condition of the country, he added.
INC workers held a ‘satyagraha’ today at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in solidarity with the youth protesting against Central Government’s Agnipath recruitment scheme. The party’s general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today said that the scheme would “kill the youth” of the country and will “finish the army”. She said that the government was not working for the poor and youth but for big industrialists.
“This scheme will kill the youth of the country, will finish the army… Please see the intent of this govt and topple it. Bring a govt that is true to the nation, and protects the country’s assets. I urge you to do peaceful protest but don’t stop,” Sonia Gandhi’s daughter and Robert Vadra’s wife said in her address, seizing the opportunity to ask for a return of Congress rule.
Urging the youth to recognise “fake nationalists”, Gandhi-Vadra assured her party’s full support to those peacefully protesting the union government’s Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces. She made the remarks as Congress MPs and leaders sat on a ‘Satyagraha’ at Jantar Mantar here in solidarity with the youths protesting the controversial scheme.
“There is no bigger patriot than you. I want to tell you, open your eyes and recognise the fake nationalists and fake patriots. The entire country and the Congress are with you in your struggle,” the INC general secretary said in her remarks aimed at youths protesting the Agnipath scheme.
Take back Agnipath to avoid repeat of farm laws: Pilot
Congress leader Sachin Pilot today urged the government not to be “stubborn” and immediately withdraw the new military recruitment scheme Agnipath for wider consultations to avoid a repeat of the farm laws episode. He asserted that the country had been kept “on a permanent boil” in the last few years, and a culmination of factors such as rejection of the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, unemployment and economic and agrarian distress had resulted in the “severe backlash” from the youth.
‘Is this MGNREGA-like step for educated youth or hidden agenda of RSS?’
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav today said there were many doubts about the scheme in the minds of the youth and demanded that it be withdrawn. He asked whether this was an MGNREGA-like initiative for the educated youth or if there was a “hidden agenda” of the RSS in it. Yadav appealed to the youth to protest peacefully against the scheme.
Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi silent on the whole issue, he asked. He said the government talked about “one rank, one pension”, but has come up with a scheme of “no rank, no pension”.
The former deputy chief minister of Bihar posed 20 questions to the government, asserting that there were many doubts in the minds of the people which should be cleared by the government.
“Protests are taking place in many parts of the country and there is anger among those who want to become soldiers,” he said. Yadav demanded that the scheme be withdrawn.
No change introduced in defence sector for 80 years: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said several steps, which the government takes aimed at the welfare and well-being of India and its people, get political colour.
While noting that no change has been introduced in the defence sector for the last 80 years, PM Modi said that it government has now been trying to bring changes aimed at improving the sector.
The prime minister made the statement while inaugurating the main tunnel and five underpasses of the Pragati Maidan Integrated Transit Corridor project.
IAF releases details of absorption from Agnipath
The Indian Air Force (IAF) today released the details of the Agnipath recruitment scheme amid the ongoing agitation and widespread protests against the scheme across several states.
The process for recruitment will begin on 24 June. The IAF document lists the eligibility, educational qualification, medical standards, assessment, leave, remuneration, life insurance cover, etc., among many other factors. As the recruitment process is open to those below 18 years, the enrolment form will need to be signed by the parents of those aspirants who are below 18 years of age, the IAF notification said.
After the period of four years, every “Agniveer will go back to the society, based on organisational requirements and policies promulgated by the IAF”, the document said, explaining the benefits which the government will provide to the 75% who will not be retained.
Rajnath meets chiefs of army, navy and IAF
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh today met the three service chiefs amid escalating protests against the ‘Agnipath’ military recruitment scheme in several parts of the country.
This was Singh’s second meeting with the chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force for the second straight day on the issue. There was no official comment on the meeting.
Sources said that the focus of the deliberations was on pacifying the protesters.
Department of Military Affairs Additional Secretary Lt Gen Anil Puri addressed a press conference in South Block today on the new model of recruitment scheme.