NEW DELHI: As protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme entered its fifth day on Sunday, opposition parties continued to attack the government and demand a roll-back.
At a tri-service media briefing in the afternoon, defence ministry officials gave out further details on how the scheme will be kick-started.
Here’s a look at the days developments so far:
Those named in FIR for vandalism cannot join: MoD official
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 also said police verification of applicants will be done, and those named in FIR will not be considered for Agnipath.
He 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 Agnipath scheme, we will recruit women also. They will be deployed on warships also,” he said.
From November 21 this year, the first naval ‘Agniveers’ will start reaching the training establishment INS Chilka in Odisha, he added.
35 WhatsApp groups banned
35 WhatsApp groups were banned by the MHA for allegedly spreading fake news about the Agnipath scheme, the government officials said.
However, information about these groups or if any action has been initiated against their administrators was not immediately known.
The police arrested nine people and detained many in Saharanpur, Bhadohi and Deoria districts for their alleged involvement in violent agitations and for instigating the youth to protests against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme, officials said on Sunday. Four people were arrested in Bhadohi and at least eight were detained in Deoria. Those arrested in Saharanpur are said to be members of different political parties, they said.
Congress holds Satyagraha, says scheme will ‘finish Army’
Congress workers held a ‘satyagraha’ on Sunday at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in solidarity with the youth protesting against Central Government’s Agnipath recruitment scheme.
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Sunday said that the scheme will ‘kill the youth’ of the country and will ‘finish the Army’. She said that the government is not working for the poor and youth but for big industrialists.
“This scheme will kill the youth of the country, will finish 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,” she said in her address.
Disruption in train services continue
The Eastern Railway on Sunday cancelled or rescheduled several trains connecting Kolkata and other places in West Bengal with northern parts of the country, including the Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, owing to the stir against the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ scheme.
A total of 29 trains, including the Poorva Express, Howrah-Kalka Netaji Express, Kolkata-Amritsar Express, Yog Nagari Rishikesh Doon Express, Sealdah-Jaynagar Gangasagar Express and the Kolkata-Gorakhpur Purvanchal Express have been cancelled for the day, the official said.
Southern Railway on Sunday said it has cancelled some more trains due to the agitation.
The KSR Bengaluru-Sanghamitra Daily Express in both directions has been cancelled while KSR Bengaluru-Patna Weekly Humsafar Super Fast Express stands cancelled immediately.
Similarly, Gaya-MGR Chennai Central Weekly Express, scheduled to leave Chennai today, was cancelled while KSR Bengaluru-New Tinsukia Weekly Superfast Express operated on Mondays has been cancelled.
No change introduced in defence sector for 80 years: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday 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 changed aimed at improvement of 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 on Agnipath scheme
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Sunday released the details of the Agnipath recruitment scheme amid the ongoing agitation and widespread protests against the scheme across several states.
The process for the recruitment will begin from June 24. 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 also open to those below 18 years, the enrolment form will need to be signed by the parents for those aspirants who are below 18 years of age, the IAF notification said.
“Post the period of four years, each 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 per cent who will not be retained.
Rajnath meets chiefs of Army, Navy and IAF
Union defence minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday met the three service chiefs amid escalating protests against the ‘Agnipath’ military recruitment scheme in several parts of the country.
It 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.
It is learnt that the focus of the deliberations was on pacifying the protesters.
‘PM forcing youth to walk on Agnipath of unemployment’
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday 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 also 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.
बार-बार नौकरी की झूठी उम्मीद दे कर, प्रधानमंत्री ने देश के युवाओं को बेरोज़गारी के ‘अग्निपथ’ पर चलने के लिए मजबूर… https://t.co/0P6rDJyVop
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 1655619113000
“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.
Take back ‘Agnipath’ to avoid repeat of farm laws: Pilot
Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Sunday 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 also 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 on Sunday 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 a MGNREGA-like initiative for the educated youth or there was a “hidden agenda” of the RSS in it. Yadav also appealed to the youth to protest peacefully against the scheme.
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.
(With inputs from agencies)