Agnipath protests: States on alert amid Bharat Bandh call; Army issues notification for recruitment

Amid the ongoing protests and calls of ‘Bharat Panda’ against the center’s Agnipath scheme to recruit soldiers into the armed forces, the Indian Army on Monday issued a notice of instigating the soldiers under the plan.

The military said online registration on the force’s recruitment website is mandatory for all job aspirants under the new form, and registration will start from July.

Meanwhile, as the protests entered their sixth day, major traffic jams were reported on the way to Noida from Delhi, where Section 144 was imposed, and Gurgaon as some organizations called for Bharat Panda.

In Bihar, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, police have been deployed at key locations to prevent any untoward incidents. In Jharkhand, schools have been ordered to remain closed and ongoing exams for grades 9 and 11 have been postponed.

Nearly 530 trains were also canceled on Monday in the wake of the protests.

Violent protests have erupted in several parts of the country since June 14 when the central government first announced the Agnipath scheme as several states have seen trains burned, public property vandalized and national highways blocked by protesters.

Commenting on the protests across the country, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami said: “Our youth and youth are being misled in our homes and being steered in the wrong direction. We are fortunate that the armed forces have always acted as a shield for society, and acted as a shield for the country.”

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday criticized the BJP-led central government over the “Agnipath” scheme, alleging that the Saffron camp was trying to create its own “armed” cadre base through the new Defense Recruitment Programme. Calling the scheme an insult to the armed forces, Banerjee also wondered if the BJP was planning to hire Agnivir soldiers as ‘guards’ in the party’s offices, after their four-year tenure. The BJP is trying to establish the base of its armed cadres through this scheme. What will they do after four years? The head of the Transitional Military Council said that the party wants to hand over weapons to the youth.

The Chennai Division of Southern Railways has ordered restrictions on the issuance of platform tickets at railway stations. In Andhra Pradesh, security has been intensified with additional troops and barbed wire at Vijaywada railway station. Troops have been deployed to key positions around the city of Vijaywada per the Associated Press.

The Agnipath plan, announced on June 14, provides for young people aged 17-and-a-half to 21-years-olds to be enlisted for only four years with a requirement that 25 percent of them be retained for another 15 years. Later, the government extended the maximum age to 23 for conscription in 2022. Protests erupted in several states against the center scheme.

The army said new recruits would be subject to the provisions of the 1950 Army Act, and would be liable to go wherever they were ordered by land, sea or air.

It said a “distinctive insignia” would be worn by Agnivers on their uniforms during their tenure, detailed instructions for which would be issued separately. The military said that based on organizational requirements and policies, “Agniveers”, upon completion of their period of participation in each batch, will be given an opportunity to apply for entry into the regular cadre.

(with inputs from agencies)

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