No Agnipath rollback, govt says concessions not a reaction to protest
New Delhi, June 19, 2022
As the protests and agitations against the Agnipath recruitment scheme continue in several parts of the country, Lt Gen Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Department of Military Affairs, on Sunday clarified the scheme will be implemented and that there is no question of a rollback.
Lt Gen Puri was addressing a joint military briefing on the Agnipath scheme with Air Marshal S. K. Jha, Vice-Admiral Dinesh Tripathi and Lt Gen C. Bansi Ponnappa.
Lt Gen Puri said that the reform was long pending. "We want to bring youthfulness and experience with this reform. Today, a large number of jawans are in their 30s and officers are getting command much later than in the past," he said.
Referring to the provisions of reservations in different ministries, Lt Gen Puri said that announcements were pre-planned and not in reaction to the arson and agitation which took place after the Agnipath scheme announcement. He also clarified that all recruitment would be through Agnipath scheme only.
"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," Puri said. He also added that Agniveers would get the same allowance in areas like Siachen and other areas which are applicable to the regular soldiers serving at present.
On the ongoing protest, Lt General Puri said, "Indian Army's foundation is discipline. No space for arson, vandalism. Every individual will have to take a pledge that they were not part of protests or vandalism."
"Registration process for the first batch of Agniveers will start from June 24 and from July 24, phase 1 online examination process will begin," said Air Marshal Jha. He said that the first batch would be enrolled by December and training would commence by December 30.
Talking about the recruitment process in Indin Navy, Vice-Admiral Tripathi said the first batch of naval Agniveers would start reaching the training establishment INS Chilka in Odisha from November 21. He also made it clear that both men and women would be recruited through the Agnipath scheme.
"The Indian Navy has 30 women officers at present sailing on different Indian Navy ships. We have decided that under the Agnipath scheme, we will recruit women also. They will be deployed on warships," the Navy official added.
"By December, we will get the first batch of 25,000 Agniveers and the second batch would be inducted around February 2023 making it 40,000," said Lt Gen Ponappa.