Agnipath Scheme: Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann gives assurance after Army decries 'lack of support'

In the letter, Major General Sharad Bikram Singh said that they are not receiving adequate support from the local administration in organising the rallies.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, September 14, 2022, 04:57 PM IST
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Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann | PTI

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday asked district authorities to provide full support for the recently launched military scheme, 'Agnipath' after the Indian Army flagged 'vacillating' support from local administration.

CM Mann said, "All Deputy commissioners were directed to provide complete support to Army Authorities for recruitment of Agniveers in Punjab. Any laxity shall be viewed seriously. Every effort will be made to recruit maximum number of candidates in to army from the state."

His statement comes after Major General Sharad Bikram Singh, the Army's zonal recruitment officer in Jalandar, on September 8, wrote a letter to Punjab Chief Secretary, VK Janjua and Kumar Rahul, Principal Secretary, Employment Generation, Skill Development and Training, on the issue.

In the letter, he said that they are not receiving adequate support from the local administration in organising the rallies. He wrote, "They are usually citing their inadequacies due to lack of directions from state government at Chandigarh or lack of funds."

While listing the requirements for conducting rallies, the Major General said that police assistance, medical support, and arrangements for food, water, and toilets need to be in place. It also highlighted that the administrative and financial support that is provided by other states is 'praise worthy', further adding that he was also sending several pictures of the arrangements in other states.

The officer said that unless they receive a "clear cut commitment" from the AAP-led government, they "would be taking up case with Army headquarters to hold in abeyance all future recruitment rallies and procedures in the State of Punjab, alternately conduct rallies in neighbouring states."

The BJP-led Centre unveiled the Agnipath military recruitment scheme in the month of June this year. Under the initiative, soldiers will be recruited for a period of four years. After four years, over 25 per cent of the soldiers, also known as 'Agniveers', will be retained in the forces.

The others will retire with a one-time 'Seva Nidhi' package that is tax-free. The Defence Ministry has earlier clarified that they will not be entitled to gratuity or pension benefits.

Initially, the launch of the initiative sparked massive protests across the nation, with protesters questions options they would have after their four-year tenure in the forces.

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