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Massive Protests Erupt Over Agneepath Scheme, Govt Responds

indian army

On Thursday, protests against the “Agnipath” scheme broke out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana, with hundreds of enraged Army aspirants and other protesters burning tyres and obstructing train and road traffic while calling for the scheme’s withdrawal. This comes just a day after the Center announced the recruitment scheme for the short-term induction of troops into the armed services.

In train stations, protesters using batons broke the glass windows, setting one coach on fire. They carried a banner that said, “Indian Army Lovers,” and shouted protests against the new recruitment strategy.

A huge group of protesters threw stones at the police and had to be dispersed by the use of tear gas. Footage revealed firefighters putting out a fire that demonstrators created by throwing furniture onto the tracks and setting it ablaze.

Government representatives released a fact sheet in the midst of these protests to counter misconceptions about the scheme.

They denied that Agnipath will reduce opportunities for the youth. In contrast, they forecasted that there would be more possibilities for the youth to join the military this way.

“In the coming years, recruitment of Agniveers will be around triple of the current recruitment in armed forces,” they said.

Officials added that students who want to start their own business would receive a financial package and bank loan programme.

The government stated that the students will receive certificates equivalent to 12 classes for further study as well as a bridge course as their alternative choices.

“For those wishing to obtain jobs- they will be given priority in CAPFs and State Police. Several avenues are also being opened up for them in other sectors,” officials added.

According to them, there is no change being made to the regimental system, refuting the idea that it will impair regimental bonding.

“In fact, it will be further accentuated because the best of Agniveers will be selected, further boosting cohesiveness of the unit,” they added.

Government officials denied the claims that the plan would reduce the effectiveness of the armed forces, stating that the system has already been tried and tested in the majority of nations with such a “short term enlistment system” and is therefore “considered best practise for a youthful and agile army.”

“The numbers of Agniveers to be recruited in the first year would only make up 3 per cent of the armed forces. Additionally, the performance of the Agniveers will be tested before re-induction in the army after four years. Hence Army will get tested and tried personnel for supervisory ranks,” the officials explained.

A number of potential recruits for the armed forces are disappointed with the modifications made under the new recruitment policy for the Indian Army, particularly the length of service, the lack of early release pension benefits, and the 17.5 to 21-year age restriction that now disqualifies a large number of them.

According to Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande, however, the Agnipath scheme aims to make the Army a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the full spectrum of conflict.

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