NEW DELHI: Undeterred by the violent protests against the Agnipath scheme, the Centre on Saturday indicated it will go ahead with the recruitment as it announced a slew of new concessions for Agniveer aspirants. While the Union home ministry announced that 10% vacancies in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles would be reserved for Agniveers, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved a similar proposal for the new recruits once they complete their four-year tenure in the armed forces.
The newly announced reservation will be applicable for the Indian Coast Guard, defence civilian posts and all 16 defence public sector undertakings. The reservation for Agniveers will be in addition to existing quota for ex-servicemen. In a statement, the defence ministry said “necessary age relaxation provision will also be made” to effect this change.
The fresh announcements follow the government’s one-time relaxation in the upper age limit for joining the armed forces this year, raising it from 21 to 23, in view of the freeze in a recruitment drive in the past two years due to the pandemic. According to the Agnipath scheme announced on June 14, those between 17.5 and 21 years of age can apply to be Agniveers for four years.
The MHA also decided to give three years age relaxation beyond the prescribed upper age limit to Agniveers for recruitment to CAPFs and Assam Rifles. For the first batch of Agniveers, the age relaxation will be for five years beyond the prescribed upper age limit.
In addition to the two ministries, the states of Karnataka, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam have announced preference to Agniveers in state police recruitment. “The state police forces will greatly benefit from the training and discipline inculcated to Agniveers by the armed forces and their capabilities in tackling insurgency, Naxalism and natural disasters will be hugely augmented,” said the government in a press release. According to the government, several corporate houses and industry bodies have welcomed the new and transformative recruitment process for the armed forces. Apart from customised certificates, a bachelor’s programme by the Indira Gandhi National Open University has also been planned for the Agniveers.
Meanwhile, protests continued unabated on Saturday. While the situation remained tense in Bihar, Karnataka and Kerala also reported protests against the short-term recruitment scheme for the armed forces. Unlike the past two days, there was no major violence on Saturday though there were reports of stone throwing in some parts of Karnataka.
Congress leader Rahul
Gandhi asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rollback the Agnipath scheme, while AAP MP Raghav Chadha wrote to Rajnath Singh calling for a similar step. Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan urged the PM to put the drive on hold in the interest of the country.
WILL WORK FOR WITHDRAWAL OF ‘DIRECTIONLESS’ SCHEME: SONIA
Congress president Sonia Gandhi termed the Agnipath scheme as “directionless”, and said her party will work for its withdrawal. She also appealed to the youths to adopt non-violent means to fight for their demands. “It is unfortunate that the government has announced a new armed forces’ recruitment policy, which is completely directionless and it has done so while ignoring your voices,” she said.
Railways cancels 369 trains due to protests
The Railways cancelled 369 trains on Saturday due to the agitation against the Centre’s recently announced Agnipath scheme for recruitment of soldiers in the armed forces, officials said. These include 210 mail/express and 159 local passenger trains. The Railways has also partially cancelled two mail/express trains, thus the total number of trains affected during the day is 371, the officials said.