A massive rampage was witnessed in several states against the Agnipath scheme for recruitment to the armed forces. One person was killed in Telangana, while buses in the national capital were vandalised. Seeing the situation, the Haryana government has also ordered the suspension of the internet till June 18, 4:30 PM. Apart from that, in Bihar, agitators allegedly set two train coaches on fire on early Friday morning. The Bihar government has also suspended the internet services in 12 districts till June 19.
Despite the Centre’s decision to increase the upper age limit to 23 from 21 for recruitment, the protestors want the government to withdraw the scheme. However, the government has asserted that the new model will not change the composition of regiments of the Indian Army during the recruitment process.
Here are 10 key points about the big story that you need to know:
1. On Friday morning, two coaches of the Jammu Tawi Express train were set on fire at Mohiuddinagar station of Hajipur-Barauni railway line. However, officials said that no one was hurt during the incident, adding that security has been beefed up in the area.
2. The Bihar government has also suspended the internet services in 12 districts including Kaimer, Bhojpur, Aurangabad, Rohtas, Buxer, Nawada, West Champaran, Samastipur, Lakhisarai, Begusarai, Vaishali and Saran till June 19.
3. Similar protests have also erupted in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Telangana and Delhi with aspirants urging the government to take back the scheme. The aspirants are concerned about their future and ponder what would happen to them after three years of service completion.
4. The government, however, has assured the aspirants about their future, saying the Agnipath scheme will open up avenues for youth in the private sector and help them become entrepreneurs with the aid of the financial package they will get upon retirement.
5. It should be noted that many states, mostly ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have also announced benefits for ‘agniveer’ once they complete their three years of service.
6. On Thursday, the government also extended the upper age limit for the Agnipath recruitment scheme from 21 years to 23 years. It said the age waiver will be given only “one time” for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022.
7. “Consequent to the commencement of the Agnipath scheme, the entry age for all new recruits in the Armed Forces has been fixed as 17.5 to 21 years of age. Cognizant of the fact that it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years, the Government has decided that a one-time waiver shall be granted for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022. Accordingly, the upper age limit for the recruitment process for the Agnipath scheme for 2022 is increased to 23 years,” said the Defence Ministry.
8. Meanwhile, several political parties, including the Congress, the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), have attacked the BJP over the massive protests across India, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has “betrayed” the youths of the country. They say that the Centre should withdraw the scheme immediately.
9. Notably, former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh – BJP’s ally – has also suggested that the Centre should review the Agnipath scheme, saying “it will dilute the long-existing distinct ethos of regiments.”
10. JD-U’s national president Rajiv Ranjan Singh has also urged the Centre to do an “avilamb punarvichaar” (a rethink without delay) on the scheme which has “given rise to fears and anxieties in the minds of a large number of youths in Bihar and other parts of the country”.