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Scrap the ‘Agnipath Scheme’, protesters stage violent protests countrywide

Violent scenes from Bihar, Haryana, New Delhi, Jammu and Jharkand have seriously exposed the Modi regime’s widely publicised Agnipath recruitment scheme for the army

Sabrangindia 16 Jun 2022

Agnipath scheme

Trains were set afire, rail and road traffic disputed, window panes of buses smashed, and passers-by, including a ruling BJP MLA, pelted with stones as the protests spread to multiple states across the country. The protests against the Armed Forces’ new recruitment plan Agnipath turned violent Thursday as aspirant’s disrupted rail and road traffic in several parts of Bihar, Haryana, New Delhi, Jammu and Jharkhand. Agnipath is the Central Government’s new recruitment policy for the defence forces under which about 45,000 people between the age of 17.5 years and 21 years will be inducted into the services for a four-year tenure. Protesters have been demanding the reinstatement of the previous recruitment system. There is serious concern that this is not just an informalisation of a serious profession but ensures no protection of service.

Images of trains being set on fire, rail and road traffic disputed, window panes of buses smashed, and passers-by, including a ruling BJP MLA, pelted with stones poured in as the protests spread to multiple states across the country. Protests were also seen at Delhi’s Nangloi Railway Station as aspirants stopped trains demanding a rollback of the decision. Similar scenes were also seen in Jammu where the police resorted to lathicharge outside the Army’s recruitment office at B C Road as hundreds of protestors blocked the busy Tawi bridge disrupting vehicular traffic. Hundreds of young people also took to the streets in Haryana’s Gurugram, Rewari and Palwal against the scheme. A police vehicle was damaged in stone pelting in Palwal and the Agra Chowk on National Highway 19 was blocked.

Meanwhile, in a clear attempt to pacify protesters, the Central Government released a “Myths vs Facts” document addressing the concerns raised on the recruitment plan. The government has said that those wishing to be entrepreneurs after their service as Agniveers will get a financial package and bank loan scheme and those wishing to study further will be given a 12th Class equivalent certificate and a bridging course for further studies, and those who want salaried jobs will be given priority in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and state police

Opposition parties have sharply criticised the new form of recruitment. As protests raged across several states against the new Agnipath scheme for recruiting soldiers across the three services, the Congress today asked the government to keep the scheme in “abeyance” and hold “wide consultations” with serving and retired officers arguing that the scheme seems to be “poorly conceived” and “hastily drawn up”. Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters, former Union minister P Chidambaram said the scheme is “controversial, carries multiple risks, subverts the long-standing traditions and ethos of the armed forces and there is no guarantee that the soldiers recruited under the scheme will be better trained and motivated to defend the country”. He added, “We have read and heard the views expressed by retired defence officers. Almost unanimously, they have opposed the scheme and we believe that many serving officers share the same reservations about the scheme,” he said. The Congress said it has several concerns regarding the scheme – the first one being the short training and short service

Meanwhile, the Haryana home department suspended internet facilities in Palwal following protests against the Centre's new Agnipath scheme. “In order to maintain law and order in Palwal and to prevent any rumours being spread, the home department has imposed an immediate ban in Palwal district on mobile internet services, SMS, dongle services etc. The ban has been imposed on a temporary basis. This order shall remain in force for the next 24 hours. The banking and mobile recharge facilities will continue to function in the district”, the home department's order read.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly disapproves the ‘Agnipath’ scheme that does disservice to India’s national interests. Professional armed forces cannot be raised by recruiting ‘soldiers on contract’ for a period of four years, says the statement.. This scheme, to save pension money, severely compromises the quality and efficiency of our professional armed forces.

For the last two years there has been no recruitment in the Indian army. Instead of recruiting regular soldiers into the armed forces this scheme leaves such contract soldiers with no other prospects of employment after their four years. This creates a dangerous situation where they may end up serving private militias. This has hazardous implications for our social fabric already under severe strain. 

It is criminal to call upon our youth to be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice without the minimum protection of job security. The spontaneous protests in various parts of the country, reflects the anger against this scheme. 

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) has demanded that this ‘Agnipath’ scheme be scrapped forthwith and regular recruitment into the armed forces be undertaken urgently. 

Meanwhile this Facebook post by Meha Dhondiyal says it all,

“My dad was a teenager doing engineering when the 1962 war with china started, and in a fit of patriotism he volunteered to join the army. He was inducted as a 2nd Lieutenant, promoted to a Captain and served in the army for both 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan, after which as a Short Service Commission officer he was retired.  

“He got no pension, no gratuity, except the title of Captainsaheb from everyone which he tom-toms proudly even today.  He managed to make a decent life for himself and his family by working constantly, and in his 80s still works for his living. I have never heard him say a word against the army or ever bring up the point of not having a pension but when he has to work in his 80s when he should be retired comfortably with a pension, I can see it pinches him.

“Recently after a long battle by his fellow veterans(only a handful are alive) in court, a pension was ordered for the short service commission officers who took part in the war,  but the government  directed that only those should get pension if there was  direct fighting on their front. 

“This is a ridiculous directive. All regiments are ready during a war to combat whenever commanded. To differentiate between army men because the enemy attacked at a certain front and not at another is demeaning (because) a soldier doesn’t decide which regiment will fight. Nothing hurts my father more than this injustice. And nowadays he tells anyone who will listen about this injustice starting with "I was first and foremost a soldier...."

“Why am I telling u this story? Because this is the kind of chindi (cheap) mentality this government has towards the veterans. Remember this is not thousands of crores of rupees but depriving a few veterans in their 80s of pension at the end of their lives....

“Now imagine lakhs of young men like my dad, trained for four years as jawans, serving in conflict zones probably and booted out of the army at 26, with no, no pension or any perks for their service, starting from scratch for a career, with most alluring prospects as private militias or security. This is what the Agniveer plan is. 

How many bright young men do you think will opt to join the Government's short sighted Agnipath plan as Agniveers? Let one bureaucrat or minister volunteer their kid as an Agniveer.

 How many gun toting half-baked and frustrated young men will we give rise to?

And what kind of ad hoc army will we have?

Scrap the ‘Agnipath Scheme’, protesters stage violent protests countrywide

Violent scenes from Bihar, Haryana, New Delhi, Jammu and Jharkand have seriously exposed the Modi regime’s widely publicised Agnipath recruitment scheme for the army

Agnipath scheme

Trains were set afire, rail and road traffic disputed, window panes of buses smashed, and passers-by, including a ruling BJP MLA, pelted with stones as the protests spread to multiple states across the country. The protests against the Armed Forces’ new recruitment plan Agnipath turned violent Thursday as aspirant’s disrupted rail and road traffic in several parts of Bihar, Haryana, New Delhi, Jammu and Jharkhand. Agnipath is the Central Government’s new recruitment policy for the defence forces under which about 45,000 people between the age of 17.5 years and 21 years will be inducted into the services for a four-year tenure. Protesters have been demanding the reinstatement of the previous recruitment system. There is serious concern that this is not just an informalisation of a serious profession but ensures no protection of service.

Images of trains being set on fire, rail and road traffic disputed, window panes of buses smashed, and passers-by, including a ruling BJP MLA, pelted with stones poured in as the protests spread to multiple states across the country. Protests were also seen at Delhi’s Nangloi Railway Station as aspirants stopped trains demanding a rollback of the decision. Similar scenes were also seen in Jammu where the police resorted to lathicharge outside the Army’s recruitment office at B C Road as hundreds of protestors blocked the busy Tawi bridge disrupting vehicular traffic. Hundreds of young people also took to the streets in Haryana’s Gurugram, Rewari and Palwal against the scheme. A police vehicle was damaged in stone pelting in Palwal and the Agra Chowk on National Highway 19 was blocked.

Meanwhile, in a clear attempt to pacify protesters, the Central Government released a “Myths vs Facts” document addressing the concerns raised on the recruitment plan. The government has said that those wishing to be entrepreneurs after their service as Agniveers will get a financial package and bank loan scheme and those wishing to study further will be given a 12th Class equivalent certificate and a bridging course for further studies, and those who want salaried jobs will be given priority in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and state police

Opposition parties have sharply criticised the new form of recruitment. As protests raged across several states against the new Agnipath scheme for recruiting soldiers across the three services, the Congress today asked the government to keep the scheme in “abeyance” and hold “wide consultations” with serving and retired officers arguing that the scheme seems to be “poorly conceived” and “hastily drawn up”. Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters, former Union minister P Chidambaram said the scheme is “controversial, carries multiple risks, subverts the long-standing traditions and ethos of the armed forces and there is no guarantee that the soldiers recruited under the scheme will be better trained and motivated to defend the country”. He added, “We have read and heard the views expressed by retired defence officers. Almost unanimously, they have opposed the scheme and we believe that many serving officers share the same reservations about the scheme,” he said. The Congress said it has several concerns regarding the scheme – the first one being the short training and short service

Meanwhile, the Haryana home department suspended internet facilities in Palwal following protests against the Centre's new Agnipath scheme. “In order to maintain law and order in Palwal and to prevent any rumours being spread, the home department has imposed an immediate ban in Palwal district on mobile internet services, SMS, dongle services etc. The ban has been imposed on a temporary basis. This order shall remain in force for the next 24 hours. The banking and mobile recharge facilities will continue to function in the district”, the home department's order read.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly disapproves the ‘Agnipath’ scheme that does disservice to India’s national interests. Professional armed forces cannot be raised by recruiting ‘soldiers on contract’ for a period of four years, says the statement.. This scheme, to save pension money, severely compromises the quality and efficiency of our professional armed forces.

For the last two years there has been no recruitment in the Indian army. Instead of recruiting regular soldiers into the armed forces this scheme leaves such contract soldiers with no other prospects of employment after their four years. This creates a dangerous situation where they may end up serving private militias. This has hazardous implications for our social fabric already under severe strain. 

It is criminal to call upon our youth to be prepared to make the supreme sacrifice without the minimum protection of job security. The spontaneous protests in various parts of the country, reflects the anger against this scheme. 

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) has demanded that this ‘Agnipath’ scheme be scrapped forthwith and regular recruitment into the armed forces be undertaken urgently. 

Meanwhile this Facebook post by Meha Dhondiyal says it all,

“My dad was a teenager doing engineering when the 1962 war with china started, and in a fit of patriotism he volunteered to join the army. He was inducted as a 2nd Lieutenant, promoted to a Captain and served in the army for both 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan, after which as a Short Service Commission officer he was retired.  

“He got no pension, no gratuity, except the title of Captainsaheb from everyone which he tom-toms proudly even today.  He managed to make a decent life for himself and his family by working constantly, and in his 80s still works for his living. I have never heard him say a word against the army or ever bring up the point of not having a pension but when he has to work in his 80s when he should be retired comfortably with a pension, I can see it pinches him.

“Recently after a long battle by his fellow veterans(only a handful are alive) in court, a pension was ordered for the short service commission officers who took part in the war,  but the government  directed that only those should get pension if there was  direct fighting on their front. 

“This is a ridiculous directive. All regiments are ready during a war to combat whenever commanded. To differentiate between army men because the enemy attacked at a certain front and not at another is demeaning (because) a soldier doesn’t decide which regiment will fight. Nothing hurts my father more than this injustice. And nowadays he tells anyone who will listen about this injustice starting with "I was first and foremost a soldier...."

“Why am I telling u this story? Because this is the kind of chindi (cheap) mentality this government has towards the veterans. Remember this is not thousands of crores of rupees but depriving a few veterans in their 80s of pension at the end of their lives....

“Now imagine lakhs of young men like my dad, trained for four years as jawans, serving in conflict zones probably and booted out of the army at 26, with no, no pension or any perks for their service, starting from scratch for a career, with most alluring prospects as private militias or security. This is what the Agniveer plan is. 

How many bright young men do you think will opt to join the Government's short sighted Agnipath plan as Agniveers? Let one bureaucrat or minister volunteer their kid as an Agniveer.

 How many gun toting half-baked and frustrated young men will we give rise to?

And what kind of ad hoc army will we have?

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