Did not anticipate protests against Agnipath scheme, says Navy chief
Admiral R Hari Kumar said that the protests were taking place due to ‘misinformation and misunderstanding’.
As violent demonstrations against the Centre’s Agnipath recruitment scheme entered its second day, Indian Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar on Friday said he had not anticipated such protests, ANI reported.
The protests against the short-term recruitment scheme in the armed forces that erupted in the northern states on Wednesday, spread to several other parts of the country by Friday.
One person died in Secunderabad after police opened fire at protestors who resorted to arson at the city’s railway station. At least five trains were burnt in three states.
Kumar said that the protests were taking place due to “misinformation and misunderstanding”.
“We worked on Agnipath scheme for almost a year and half...It is the single biggest human resources management transformation in Indian military,” he said on Friday.
On Tuesday, the government had announced the scheme under which citizens aged between 17 and a half and 21 years will be eligible to apply for a four-year Tour of Duty in the armed forces. Of these recruits, 25% will be eligible to apply as regular personnel after they complete their Tour of Duty.
The protestors are demanding permanent recruitment under the regular process and pension and other retirement benefits, which are not part of the Agnipath scheme.
Amid the protests, the Centre on Thursday increased the age limit for recruitment under the scheme to 23 years from 21 years in 2022. The one-time waiver in the age limit has been given as there had been no recruitment in the services in the last two years, the government said.
Officials of the government and armed forces, however, have been stressing that the scheme would benefit those aspiring to get jobs in the military.
Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, the chief of the Indian Air Force, visited six forward bases on Friday to brief troops about the new scheme, ANI reported. “The aim is to explain the details of the scheme to the last man in the force,” the Indian Air Force said.
Chaudhari also announced that recruitment under the scheme will begin from June 24.
Army chief General Manoj Pande also insisted that the youth will understand the benefits of the scheme once they get to know more about it.
“I feel that the youth does not know all the proper information on the Agnipath scheme,” he told ANI on Friday.
He added that a notification will be issued in the next two days for recruitment into the Army under the scheme.