Rajasthan on Saturday passed a resolution to seek the withdrawal of the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment into the armed forces.
The scheme was announced by the government on Tuesday. Since Wednesday, aspirants for posts in the armed forces have been protesting against the move, and the demonstrations have turned violent in several places.
The protestors are demanding permanent recruitment under the regular process as well as pension and other retirement benefits that are not a part of the Agnipath scheme.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday said that many defence experts thought that the Agnipath scheme neither secures the future of young persons nor does it help the armed forces take on challenges with confidence.
“Experts say that there should be regular recruitment into the armed forces and that defence personnel should get all the benefits through which they can secure a good future for themselves and their families,” he said.
The chief minister said that the Centre should have held wide-ranging talks with all stakeholders before introducing such a scheme. “The state Council of Ministers has unanimously passed a resolution that the Agnipath scheme should be withdrawn keeping in mind the broader public interest and the sentiments of young persons,” he said.
Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson and Jaipur MP Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore urged Gehlot not to engage in “shallow politics” on matters of national interest. “When it comes to national security, any decision should be one that rises above state and national politics, and is based on policy that is in the country’s interest,” he said.
Under the Agnipath scheme, citizens aged between 17 and a half and 21 years will be eligible to apply for a four-year service in the military. Of these recruits, 25% will be eligible to apply as regular personnel after they complete their four-year service.
On Saturday, the Centre said it will give a 10% reservation for Agnipath recruits in the jobs offered by the home and defence ministries.
The home ministry also announced a three-year age relaxation for Agniveers who want to join the Central Armed Police Forces and Assam Rifles after completing their service. Currently, the maximum age limit for recruitment in the two forces is 25.