Friday, March 31, 2023

Shillong witnesses protests against ‘Agnipath’


The Meghalaya capital, which is literally dotted with headquarters of several para-military forces besides units and regional commands of the Army and Air Force, witnessed protest against the ambitious ‘Agnipath’ of the Centre for the second time on Friday when hundreds of aspirants seeking jobs in the armed forces hit the city streets demanding the roll back of the scheme and seeking implementation of the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) and army recruitment rally to be conducted at the earliest.
This is the second time job aspirants took out a protest march against the central government’s scheme which aims at recruiting applicants aged between 17.5 and 21. The selected candidates will be called ‘Agniveers’. In the earlier army recruitments for soldiers, they served the armed forces for 20 years. In the Agnipath scheme, apart from the short tenure, those who would not be retained would take home Rs 11 lakh apart from the regular salary of about Rs 30000 per month.
The protestors raised slogans against the scheme and demanded its immediate roll back. They also threatened that they would continue to protest till the central government rolled back the scheme.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to withdraw the military recruitment initiative just like the farm laws were rolled back. We will not sit idle and will continue with our protests till the government rolls back this scheme,” an agitated protestor said.
“This four-year-long service will spoil our chances of getting permanent employment in government departments and the Agnipath scheme may pose a big threat to internal security in the North East. There is a tendency among unemployed youth to join militant groups in the Northeast. The ‘Agniveers’ as they would remain unemployed after completing four years may become easy targets for militants,” Gaurav Kumar, who was leading the protest said.
“It has been our dream to join the army, but the Agnipath scheme will let us work for only four years and only spoil career as after four years we might be jobless. We do not know what we will do after that,” another protestor and job aspirant said.
The aspirants also raised concerns about the delay in conducting the Common Entrance Exam (CEE). “Many of us are preparing for the exams to join the Indian Army. We dropped our further studies after our Class 12 since we wanted to join the Indian Army to defend our Country,” another job aspirant said.
The age limit for the rank of soldiers (General Duty), clerks, technical, trade, and nursing under the CEE is between 17.5 and 23. The aspirants said some of them are above 21 years and if the Army recruits under Agnipath, they would not stand an opportunity to get into the services.

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