New Delhi [India]: Amidst the huge uproar around the new Agnipath Scheme, in a press conference while talking about the violence around the Agnipath Scheme, the military has said those who are indulging in violence in the name of protests will be barred from joining the armed forces. While applying for the post of Agniveer, the applicants will have to submit a declaration stating that they were not involved in riots.
During the press conference, Lt General Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Dept of Military Affairs, made it clear that those who had participated in violent protests and damaged public and private properties would be barred from joining the Indian Army. Moreover, in case they join the forces by hiding their involvement in the riots, they will lose their jobs.
Lt Gen Puri also said that police verification of all the candidates will be done before they join the forces as Agniveers. He said that the foundation of the Indian Army is in the discipline, and there is no space for arson and vandalism. He said, “Every individual will give a certificate that they were not part of protest or vandalism. Police verification is 100%, no one can join without that.”
The top military officer on Sunday informed that the recruitment of soldiers will increase to over one lakh in the future under the Agnipath scheme.
He said that the Centre will start with the recruitment of 46,000 Army aspirants to ‘analyse’ the scheme.
“In next 4-5 years, our intake (of soldiers) will be 50,000-60,000 & will increase to 90,000 – 1 lakh subsequently. We’ve started small at 46,000 to analyse the scheme…and to build up infra capacity,” said Additional Secretary Lt Gen Anil Puri, Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in a media briefing here today.
He further said, “Our intake of ‘Agniveers’ will go up to 1.25 lakhs in near future and will not remain at 46,000 which is the present figure.”
The top military officer also said the Agniveers will get compensation for Rs one crore if he sacrifices his life in service of the nation.
“We want a mix of josh and hosh and that is why we wanted to reduce the age profile. The average age is 32 years at present and we want to reduce it as per the recommendations of the Kargil review committee and Arun Singh committee report,” Arun Puri said.
He said around 17,600 people are taking premature retirement from the three services every year.
“No one ever tried to ask them what they will do after retirement,” he stated.
He further asserted that Agniveers would get the same allowance in areas like Siachen and other areas which are applicable to the regular soldiers serving at present.
“No discrimination against them in service conditions,” he added.
“This reform was long pending. We want to bring youthfulness and experience with this reform. Today, a large number of jawan are in their 30s and officers are getting command much later than in the past,” he added.
The Union Cabinet on June 14 approved a recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the three services of the Armed Forces called Agnipath and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers.
Under the scheme, people between the age of 17.5 years and 21 years will be inducted into the services for a four-year tenure. During this period, they will be paid a monthly salary between Rs 30,000-40,000 plus allowances, followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits.
Following the announcement of the scheme, agitations broke out and a tense situation prevailed in various states. The protests took place in several states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand and Assam so far.
In a few states, the protests turned violent, which included setting trains on fire and stone-pelting incidents, and arrests were made. In Uttar Pradesh at least 250 people have been arrested and six FIRs were lodged till Friday. One died in Telangana’s Secunderabad district.
Protesters expressed concerns about their future after four-year of contractual employment in the Indian Army, hence, demanding immediate rollback of the scheme.
Owing to the violence, the train services of the East Coast Railway zone were also affected.
In states like Bihar, where trains were set on fire in some places, the state police are probing the role of the coaching institutes behind the violence.
Acting against the violence, the Andhra Pradesh Police on Saturday detained a man named Subba Rao who ran Army training centres in Palnadu district on the suspicion that he is the conspirator in Thursday’s arson at Secunderabad Railway station in Telangana.
In response, the Centre has stepped up its efforts to appeal to the protestors not to protest and understand the new recruitment programme of the military. The government explained to the youths that they will get an exit package worth Rs 11.71 lakhs after their tenure and priority in government services.
In an effort to pacify the protesters, the Centre has introduced several modifications to the newly-unveiled Army recruitment scheme since the initial announcement.
On Saturday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved a proposal to reserve 10 per cent of the job vacancies in the Ministry of Defence for Agniveers meeting requisite eligibility criteria.
The government had also announced that it has decided to increase the upper age limit for the recruitment of Agniveers from 21 years to 23 years for the recruitment cycle of 2022.
The Union Home Ministry decided to reserve 10 per cent vacancies for recruitment in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles for Agniveers. Home Ministry has further announced that it will give three years of age relaxation to Agniveers beyond the prescribed upper age limit to recruitments in CAPFs and Assam Rifles. For the first batch of Agniveers, the age relaxation will be of five years.
Moreover, there are several state governments like Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka that have come out and announced various supportive measures for the Agniveers who would return to the civil life after their 4-year service in the Defence Forces.
Several state governments have announced that Agniveers, after serving the armed forces for 4 years, will be given preference in filling vacancies in state police forces.