A letter purportedly from the Ministry of Defence, which states the ministry had decided that personnel under "Other Ranks (ORs) attested after 1 January 2019 and not promoted to the substantive rank of Naik or equivalent on 1 July 2022 are to be kept under the new Agnipath Scheme", is viral.
The Centre on 14 June, launched the 'Agnipath' scheme, for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy, and Air Force – largely on a short-term contractual basis. The announcement has led to widespread protests across several states.
However, we found that the letter was fake.
Neither is the letter available on the ministry's website, nor is it a part of any press release from the the Press Information Bureau (PIB).
The letter has been undersigned by one 'MK Ramanna', but we couldn't find him listed as an additional secretary on MOD's website.
The number, mentioned on the letter, is invalid.
Sharing the letter, people said, "मोदी सरकार का एक और #दमनकारी_फैसला भारतीय सेना में जो जवान 31 December 2018 के बाद भर्ती हुए हैं वो सभी जवान "अग्निवीर" घोषित कर दिये हैं।"
[Translation: Another repressive_ decision of the Modi government. All the soldiers who have been recruited in the Indian Army after 31 December 2018 have been declared "Agniveer".]
The letter was addressed to the Chief of Staffs of the tri-services and said, "I am directed to refer to this Ministry's letter no. F.No. 9 (11/2027/F dated 17 June, 2022, on the subject cited above and to say that the ORs attested after 01 January, 2013 and not promoted to the substantive rank of Naik or equivalent on 01 July, 2022 are to be kept under the new Agnipath Scheme...."
The letter was signed by one MK Ramanna, who was identified as an Additional Secretary to GoI.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
We conducted a keyword search but did not find any credible media report to corroborate the claim.
We, however, did find a letter from 17 June regarding extension of age in the Agnipath Scheme from 21 years to 23 years.
Additionally, we looked at the MoD's website and did not find an Additional Secretary named "MK Ramanna", who has signed the viral letter. We also found that the phone number listed on the letter is invalid.
Further, a tweet from the Government of India's official fact-checking arm PIB Fact Check stated the claims made in the letter are false.
Evidently, a fabricated letter from the Ministry of Defence has gone viral which claims that all soldiers who joined after 1 Jan 2019 are to be kept under Agnipath Scheme.