The Central government extended the upper age limit for the Agnipath recruitment scheme from 21 years to 23 years amid massive protests against the scheme in different parts of the country.
The age waiver will be given only “one time” for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022, informed the Defence Ministry. The decision has been taken as no recruitment had taken place in the last two years.
“Consequent to the commencement of the Agnipath scheme, the entry age for all new recruits in the Armed Forces has been fixed as 17.5 to 21 years of age. Cognizant of the fact that it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years, the Government has decided that a one-time waiver shall be granted for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022.
Accordingly, the upper age limit for the recruitment process for the Agnipath scheme for 2022 is increased to 23 years,” the Defence Ministry statement reads.
Some aspirants for the armed forces are unhappy with the changes introduced under the new recruitment scheme, particularly the length of service, no pension provisions for those released early, and the 17.5 to 21-year age restriction that now makes many of them ineligible.
Agitations spilt over to several districts as youths protested by lying down on the railway tracks, and blocking roads, demanding the scrapping of the scheme.
Huge crowds gathered in the Bihar’s Chhapra, Jehanabad, Munger and Nawada areas of Bihar, demanding the withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme. A group of army aspirants protested at Bhabua Road Railway Station and blocked the tracks before setting a train on fire.
People hit the streets in Haryana’s Palwal against the Agnipath scheme for recruitment of youths to defence services. Following this, the Police personnel deployed at the DC residence in Palwal resorted to aerial firing to warn protesters who were pelting stones at the residence.
Several police vehicles were torched, several roadways buses were damaged in stone-pelting and the National Highway 19 was also blocked. The Police used tear gas shells and fired in the air to control the mob. Amid the protest, local authorities suspended Internet and SMS services for some time. It was withdrawn later. To keep the situation under control, Section 144 has been imposed in Palwal.
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Agnipath recruitment scheme which provides an opportunity for Indian youth to serve in the regular cadre of the Armed Forces for a period of four years.
Agnipath scheme aims to make the Army a future-ready fighting force capable of meeting multiple challenges across the full spectrum of conflict, Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pande said on Tuesday.
It allows patriotic and motivated youth to serve in the Armed Forces for a period of four years. Soldiers who are recruited under this scheme will be known as Agniveers.
The AGNIPATH Scheme has been designed to enable a youthful profile of the Armed Forces and provide a fresh lease of ‘Josh’ and ‘Jazba’ whilst at the same time bring about a transformational shift towards a more tech-savvy Armed Forces – which is indeed the need of the hour, the defence ministry highlighted.
It is envisaged that the average age profile of the Indian Armed forces would come down by about 4-5 years with the implementation of this scheme.
The selection will be the exclusive jurisdiction of the Armed Forces. A total of 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year.