Ministries concessions planned; intake will go upto 1.25 lakh soon, says Defence Ministry
The Army, Navy and the Air Force on Sunday announced a broad schedule for recruitment of Agniveers as top officials ruled out any plans for a rollback of the scheme despite large scale protests across the country.
Addressing a press conference, Anil Puri, Additional Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs, said the number of recruits under the Agnipath scheme will go upto 1.25 lakh in the coming years. “In the next four to five years, the intake (of soldiers) will increase to 50,000-60,000 and go up to 90,000-1 lakh subsequently. The intake of Agniveers will go upto 1.25 lakh in the near future and will not remain at 46,000,” he said.
He stressed that the scheme is being implemented to reduce the average age profile and infuse youthfulness in the three services. Terming it a “progressive step”, he said the scheme was introduced after years of deliberations, and even a high-level committee on the 1999 Kargil war had made observations on the issue. He added that supportive measures announced by various ministries and departments in the last few days for post-service Agniveers were pre-planned and not in response to protests and arson.
Giving details of the Navy’s plan to enroll Agniveers under the scheme, Vice Admiral (Personnel) Dinesh Tripathi said the Naval headquarters will come out with broad guidelines for the recruitment by June 25. The first batch of recruits will report for the training programme on INS Chilka in Odisha by November 21, he said, stressing that the Navy is recruiting both men and women under the scheme.
Similarly, the Indian Air Force will put out a notification and start registration process for the first batch of Agniveers on June 24, said Air Marshal SK Jha, adding that the process for online examination for phase one will begin on July 24. Training for the first batch of recruits will commence from December 30.
Army, on the other hand, will issue a draft notification on Monday, said Lt Gen Bansi Ponnappa, adding that subsequent notifications will be issued from all the recruiting offices of the force from July 1. Recruitment rallies under the Agnipath scheme will take place across the country starting August and run through September, October and November, he said. The first batch comprising about 25,000 personnel will join the training centres in the first couple of weeks in December and the second lot will join their training around February 23, he added. The army will conduct 83 recruitment rallies across the country to induct around 40,000 recruits under the scheme.
Speaking about the ongoing protests, Lt Gen Anil Puri said, “There is no space for indiscipline in the armed forces. There is no space for arson and vandalism. All those who want to become part of the armed forces under the Agnipath scheme will need to give a pledge that they have not participated in any protest and vandalism. Nobody can join the armed forces without police verification.” He also urged the aspirants to begin preparing for physical tests.
Meanwhile, several top Congress leaders, including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, participated in a satyagraha in support of those protesting against the scheme at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.