Will Centre rollback Agnipath recruitment scheme? Top military officer replies

New Delhi: Amid demands for rollback of the Agnipath scheme, a top military official on Sunday (June 19) categorically denied taking back the yojana for recruitment in the armed forces. Addressing mediapersons, Additional Secretary Lt Gen Anil Puri, Department of Military Affairs (DMA) said the Agnipath scheme will not be withdrawn. “Why should we rollback? It is the only progressive step to make the country young,” he added. His remarks come amid various Opposition parties and agitators demanding the Centre take back the Agnipath recruitment scheme. 

Protests have erupted across the country with many states witnessing violence as demonstrators torched trains and vandalised public properties. At least 250 people have been arrested and six FIRs were lodged in Uttar Pradesh till Friday, following Agnipath protests. One youth died during police firing in Telangana’s Secunderabad district. Protestors are angry over the Agnipath Yojana as 75% of Agniveers, soldiers recruited under the scheme, will have to retire after the four-year contractual period without pension benefits. 

Here are the top quotes from Lt Gen Puri’s briefing on Agnipath scheme:

1. For Agnipath protestors: Indian Army’s foundation is discipline. No space for arson, vandalism. Every individual will give a certificate that they were not part of protests or vandalism. Police verification is 100%, no one can join without that. And if any FIR is lodged against them, they can’t join…They (aspirants) will be asked to write as part of the enrollment form that they were not part of the arson, their police verification will be done. 

2. On Agnipath protests violence: We had not anticipated the recent violence over this scheme. There is no place for indiscipline in the Armed Forces. 

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3. On Agniveers retirement concern: 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. 

4. Agniveers recruitment to increase: “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,” Lt General Puri was quoted as saying by ANI. 

5. Compensation for Agniveers: ‘Agniveers’ will get a compensation for Rs 1 crore if they sacrifice their life in service of the nation. 

6. Agnipath scheme: The ‘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.

(With agency inputs)