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No rollback of Agnipath scheme: Top Military official

"Why should it be rolled back ? It's a progressive step to make the forces young," said Lt Gen Anil Puri addressing a press conference at South Block.

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New Delhi: Amid growing demands to scrap the newly launched Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces, the Department of Military Affairs on Sunday categorically stated that the new scheme for recruitment will not be rolled back.

“Why should it be rolled back ? It’s a progressive step to make the forces young,” said Lt Gen Anil Puri addressing a press conference at South Block.

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He said that the applicants who have been found to be involved in arson or vandalism over the scheme will not be absorbed in the forces and candidates will require to give a written pledge as part of their enrollment.

“The basis of Indian Army is discipline, we have no space for arson and vandalism. Indian Army will take a certificate from the Agnipath applicants that they have not been involved in such protests and vandalism. Police verification will also be done,” said Gen Puri.

The applicants will be asked as part of their enrollment that they were not involved in such activities, if an FIR is found to be lodged against an individual, he would not be able to join, he added.

Gen Puri also said that the reservations for jobs in various ministries and departments for Agniveers was pre planned and it is not the outcome of the protests taking place in the country. He also said that they didn’t anticipate recent violence over the scheme.

Mounting further defence in favour of Agnipath scheme, he said that the reform was pending for many years. 

“We have been working on such reforms one after another. Agnipath scheme will bring down the average age to 26 years from the existing 32 years. We needed to bring down the age for 30 years,” he said.

Ours is country of the young. It doesn’t look nice if the age profile of the Army stays around 32 years. We have studied the model of other countries as well, he added.

Elaborating on the need to bring down the age profile of the Indian forces, Gen Puri said that future wars will require young and tech-savvy soldiers.

He gave the example of growing use of drones in warfare saying the armed forces need soldiers who have grown up playing with mobile phones. 

Briefing about the progress of recruitment of Agniveers in the forces, Vice Admiral DK Tripathi said, “The Indian Navy has completed the process for recruitment of Agniveers. We will send our advertisement to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting by June 25. The first Agniveer will report to the Training Institute by November 21,” he said.

He said that the recruitment of Agniveers in the Indian Navy wi be gender neutral.

“Indian Navy has 30 women officers at present on different Indian Navy warships. We have decided that we will recruit women also. They will be deployed on warships,” he said.

The IAF has published a detailed brief on the Agnipath scheme on its website.

Informing about the recruitment process, Air Marshal SK Jha said that the registration process for recruitment of Agniveers will start from June 24. 

One month after that the online examination will be taken and the first batch would be enrolled by December and training would commence by December 30 this year, added Air Marshal Jha.

Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired a meeting on Agnipath scheme in the morning at his residence. It was attended by the Chiefs of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy along with officials of the Department of Military Affairs and Ministry of Defence.

The Union cabinet on June 14 approved the new recruitment scheme for Indian youth in the armed forces.

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