Lt General Anil Puri, additional secretary of the department of military affairs announced on Sunday, 19 June, that there will be no rollback of the Agnipath scheme. Puri was addressing a press conference alongside top officers from the army, navy and air force.
“No roll back. Why should it be rolled back? It is the only progressive step to make the country young. You know how many casualties come from high altitude areas just due to health reasons? You will understand why it’s so important to have young people (in the army),” Lt General Puri said.
Lt General Puri further emphasised the need to have young and tech-savvy people in the military.
“By 2030, half of India’s population will be below the age of 25. We wanted to create a good mix of young people (who are) filled with enthusiasm and energy along with experienced serving soldiers,” he said.
“The wars that will happen in the future will be based on technology. Drones will be used to destroy armoured vehicles and tanks. We need youngsters who are adept at using this kind of technology,” he added.
Agniveers Must 'Pledge' Against Violence
The officials also announced that all ‘Agniveers’ will have to pledge that they never took part in any arson or protest. There have been widespread protests and violence in different parts of the country over the Agnipath scheme.
"There is no place for indiscipline in the Armed Forces. If there is any FIR against any candidate, they cannot be a part of Agniveers," said Lieutenant General Anil Puri.
Lt General Puri also said that the government did not give concessions in the Agnipath scheme because of the protests and that those provisions were already in the works.
"The announcements regarding the reservations for Agniveers announced by the different ministries and departments were pre-planned and not in reaction to the arson that happened after the Agnipath scheme announcement," he added.
Agniveer Recruits To Eventually Rise To 1.5 Lakh
The Indian Army will issue a draft notification for the induction of Agniveers on Monday, 20 June. Recruitment rallies will take place across the country in August, September and October, the officials added.
By December, 25,000 Agniveers would join the Army. The second batch will be inducted by February, 2023.
Moreover, the Indian Navy said that it has decided to hire women Agniveers and they would be deployed on warships.
"From November 21 this year, the first naval Agniveers will start reaching the training establishment INS Chilka, Odisha. Both female and male Agniveers are allowed for this," said Vice Admiral Dinesh Tripathi.
Lt General Puri also said that the number of recruits under Agniveer will go up to 1.25 lakh in the near future.
“We wanted to start small and study it to assess how it pans out and what else is required. In the next 4-5 years, our intake will increase to 50,000-60,000. After this, it will increase to 1.25 lakhs,” he said.