As protests against the Union Defence Ministry’s new military scheme escalated in at least 11 states, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday, 18 June, announced 10 percent reservation for ‘Agniveers’ in the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles.
It also declared a three-year age relaxation beyond the upper age limit to 'Agniveers' for recruitment in the two forces.
Soon after this, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved 10 percent reservation in the defence ministry too.
In a series of tweets, the defence ministry said that the 10 percent reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard, defence civilian posts, and all the 16 defence public sector undertakings.
Further, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that the Karnataka government will induct 'Agniveers' into state police after completion of their service in the Agnipath recruitment scheme, news agency ANI reported, quoting the minister.
Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also said that public sector undertakings (PSUs) under the housing and petroleum ministries are looking at ways to hire 'Agniveers' after their four-year service in the armed forces, according to PTI.
This development comes right after the age limit was relaxed from 21 to 23 on Thursday,16 June for 2022. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had also said that 'Agniveers' would be given preference in the CAPFs.
Why Are People Protesting?
The Agnipath scheme is being criticised for its employment of the youth for a short-term period, which will leave young soldiers in the lurch after their contractual stint in the armed forces comes to an end.
Pan-India protests had erupted on Thursday, 16 June, with gatherings in various parts of Bihar and UP, Delhi's Nangloi, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh. In the Kaimur district of Bihar, protesters set fire to a train at the Bhabua Road railway station.
There were reports of protests continuing on Friday, 17 June, including incidents of buses being set ablaze and police stations being vandalized in Aligarh.
The Agnipath Scheme
The scheme, as released, allowed for the induction of about 45,000 people aged 17.5 to 21 years into the military for a four-year period. Recruitment for the same is supposed to begin in the next 90 days, with the first wave expected to arrive in July 2023.
Furthermore, there will be a six-month training period during which they would be paid a monthly wage of Rs 30,000-40,000 as allowances. Candidates will be able to obtain insurance and medical benefits as well.
Only 25 percent of these troops will be retained after four years, and they will serve for a total of 15 years in non-officer ranks.
The remaining employees will receive a package worth between Rs 11 lakh and Rs 12 lakh when they leave the service, but they will not be eligible for pension benefits.
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