Agnipath Scheme: Farmers’ Group To Launch Nationwide Campaign On Sunday, Demands Rollback

New Delhi: The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) will launch a nationwide campaign from Sunday against the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ scheme for recruitment in the Army, as reported by news agency PTI. This campaign will be started with the support of the ‘United Front’ of retired military personnel and various youth organisations.

The Agnipath scheme has “put to an end the tried and tested method of regular, permanent recruitment to the armed forces. It would mean a drastic reduction in the size of the armed forces from the present sanctioned strength of 14 lakh to merely seven lakh,” the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) said in a statement on Saturday.

“This is a serious setback to farming families who have contributed to the nation by sending their youths to the armed forces.

“The proposed ‘all India, all class recruitment’ would severely reduce the share of regions like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Uttarakhand, western UP and eastern Rajasthan that have contributed to the armed forces for generations, besides affecting the morale of the regiments,” it said.

The recruitment on an “all India, all class” premise is set to change the piece of certain regiments that recruit youths from specific regions as well as castes.

“The campaign demands that the pending vacancies (about 1.25 lakh) and the current year vacancies (about 60,000) should be filled immediately following the pre-existing method of regular and permanent recruitment. The recruitment process already initiated must be completed with age-relaxation of two years in lieu of non-recruitment during the last two years,” the SKM said.

“All cases against anti-Agnipath protesters must be withdrawn and the arrested youth must be released forthwith. There should be no privatisation in the defence sector, the government must accept its responsibility for national security and protection of the honour and morale of armed forces,” the statement said.

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Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav said on Saturday that taking the first step under the campaign, a ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ conference would be organised from August 7 to August 14.

“This campaign aims to educate the public about the disastrous consequences of the controversial Agnipath scheme and compel the Centre, by using democratic, peaceful and constitutional means, to roll it back.

“If the (three) farm laws were dire, the Agnipath scheme is disastrous. With our farmers and soldiers in distress, the backbone of our nation is in danger of being broken. Our silence cannot be the reason for the government to bulldoze and destroy the protectors and feeders of the nation. We have stopped them once, we can stop them again,” Yadav said at a press conference here.

Apart from this, programs will be held in Rewari (Haryana) and Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh) on 9th August, Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Meerut (Uttar Pradesh) on 10th August and Patna on 11th August.

Yadav demanded that the Agnipath scheme should be withdrawn and the old system of regular and permanent recruitment should be restored. ‘Agnipath’ is a scheme for recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and Air Force, under which there is a provision for appointment on a contract basis for four years.

(With PTI Inputs)