The Union government on Thursday increased the upper age limit for recruitment in the armed forces under the Agnipath scheme to 23 years from 21 years in 2022.

While announcing the Agnipath scheme on Tuesday, the government had said citizens between the ages of 17-and-a-half and 21 will be eligible to apply for a four-year “Tour of Duty” in the armed forces. Twenty-five per cent of those who complete the Tour of Duty will be eligible to apply as regular personnel.

However, the short-term recruits, or Agniveers, will not be eligible for pension or gratuity benefits and will be given a sum of Rs 11.71 lakh at the end of their service.

The Ministry of Defence on Thursday said that the one-time waiver in the age limit has been given as there has been no recruitment in the services in the last two years, PTI reported.

The move comes amidst violent protests against the recruitment scheme in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

While some protestors sought the reinstatement of the old method of recruitment in the armed forces, some demanded a reservation in jobs after the end of the four-year stint in the armed forces.

Previously, soldiers were recruited by the armed forces for a 17-year period, which could be extended for some personnel.

In Bihar, some protestors set train coaches on fire in Bhabua and Chhapra cities. In some places, the protestors broke the window panes of trains and buses.

In Nawada district, a Bharatiya Janata Party office was set on fire. In a separate incident, agitators threw stones at Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Aruna Devi’s car. Five persons, including the legislator, were injured in the attack.

In Rajasthan, aspirants for posts in the armed forces held protests in Jodhpur, Sikar, Jaipur, Nagaur, Ajmer and Jhunjhunu districts. Members of the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party led by Hanuman Beniwal also joined the protests.

The police deployed additional forces at places where protests took place.

In Haryana’s Palwal city, some protestors threw stones outside the district commissioner’s office and torched police vehicles. The police fired shots to bring the protests under control. Internet services were also suspended in the city.