As Agnipath protests singe India, check out what defence veterans said about the recruitment scheme

Protests have erupted in several states since Wednesday against the scheme to recruit jawans for a four-year period followed by compulsory retirement for most without gratuity and pension benefits

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Friday, June 17, 2022, 07:18 PM IST
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TOPSHOT - Protestors set vehicles on fire during a demonstration against the governments new Agnipath recruitment scheme for the army, navy, and air forces at a railway station in Secunderabad on June 17, 2022. | (Photo by NOAH SEELAM / AFP)

Protests against the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme raged through several states for the third day today with trains torched, public property vandalised and many thousands blocking tracks and highways. Besides, one person was killed in police firing in Secunderabad, the first casualty of protests against the defence recruitment scheme.

Meanwhile, let's take a look at what defence veterans said about the recruitment scheme.

Former Army chief General VP Malik expressed his support for scheme today said the Army is not interested in recruiting hooligans responsible for the violence taking place during the protests. Speaking to NDTV, General Malik said, "We have to understand that the armed forces are a volunteer force. It is not a welfare organisation and it has to have the best people who can fight for the country, who can defend the country." "Those people who indulged in goondaism, burning trains and buses, those are not the people we would like to have in the armed forces," he added.

Lt Gen (retd) J R Mukherjee said that the youths may have been protesting out of apprehension about their future as to what will happen when they get out of the forces after four years. Speaking to news agency PTI, Mukherjee said that he does not "think well of it" and termed the introduction of the Agnipath scheme as a bad decision. "You are turning the Indian young men into cannon fodder," he said, questioning how they can be trained in a short period of time when their service is of four years only.

Air Chief Marshal (retd) Arup Raha said that the recruitment process starting from 17 and a half years will bring down the age profile of the Armed Forces by four to five years and it will be particularly beneficial for the Army. Raha said that the success of the scheme will depend on a sound exit policy wherein those who go out after four years get properly inducted into jobs in the government or private sector. "They should be absorbed into the civil life, in the industry, government agencies, CRPF or the CAPF and the policy must be very clear," he said.

Major General (retd) Arun Roye said that the Agnipath scheme should have come as a pilot project to check what is working and what is not and then take a call on implementing it. "These contractual recruits should be first taken in the services group like ordnance, Army Services Corps and see how it works out," he said. He said that if successful, then only they may be inducted into the combat support arm which deals with communication, road making and finally into the combat units like infantry.

Major General (retd.) G.D. Bakshi took to Twitter and said he was "flabergasted" by the Agniveer scheme. "I thought initially it was a trial being done on a pilot basis. This is an across the board change to convert Indian armed forces to a short tenure quasi-conscript force like the Chinese. For God’s sake, please don’t do it," he wrote.

“Let's not destroy our institutions in a time of great threats from China & Pak. Armed forces have performed well. Just for saving money let us not destroy what we have. Armed forces need a mixture of youth & experience. 4 year tenure forces could be risk averse. Learn from Russia,” he tweeted, adding, “If trained & young military manpower released is not absorbed, it could join terrorists or insurgents. 4 year contractual period militates against integration in unit & could make men risk averse. Cater for 6 months trg [training] period & 8 months' annual leave, residual service will be just 3 years.

(With PTI inputs)

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