Protests intensify over India military recruitment plan, govt tweaks scheme -Breaking
© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Protestors carrying sticks entered a railway station as part of a demonstration against “Agnipath” scheme for recruitment personnel for the Armed Forces, in Patna (India’s eastern state), June 17, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer
Saurabh Sharma, Jatindra
BHUBANESHWAR/LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) -Protesters in India’s eastern state of Bihar damaged public property and ransacked offices in a railway station on Saturday, expressing outrage at a new military recruitment plan and demanding the government reverse course.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created a program called Agnipath, or “path to fire”, to increase the number of people who join the military through four-year contracts. This will lower India’s average age of 1.38 million soldiers.
Lieutenant General Anil Puri (a top military general) stated to NDTV that the goal of the plan was for the military to become more efficient and modern.
Analysts claimed that the new system would help reduce the rising cost of retirement, while opponents believed it would restrict opportunities for permanent positions in the military, which would impact salaries, pensions, and other benefits.
Many young Indian men clashed at the railway station in Bihar. This is one of India’s poorest states.
369 trains were cancelled by authorities nationwide. Many of these trains ran through unrest-prone areas.
Sanjay Singh is a top police officer responsible for law and order in the State. He said that at most 12 protesters were taken into custody and at minimum four officers were injured during clashes.
He told Reuters that between 2,000 and 2,500 people attacked the Masaurhi forces at the Masaurhi railway station.
At least 250 were detained by police in Uttar Pradesh, India’s biggest state. These are known as preventative arrests. Some protestors accused police officers of excessive force. One protestor was shot to death during the week of demonstrations.
HUMAN RESOURCE TRANSFORMATION’
The federal government announced Saturday concessions to those serving under the scheme in an effort to calm the anger.
According to the federal home ministry, 10% of the available vacancies in paramilitary forces or Assam Rifles will be reserved for Indian Army personnel who are out of service after the required four-year period.
Defence ministry said it would hold 10% of its vacant positions for individuals who completed the program.
Rajnath Singh (Defense Minister) said that people may have misunderstood the new scheme because they are so recent. He spoke at a conference Saturday.
This scheme requires 25% retention of recruited soldiers following four years service. The remainder will be eligible for priority in other roles, including with the state police.
According to the navy chief, the protests on Friday were unanticipated and likely the result of misinformation regarding the new system.
Admiral R. Hari Kumar said to ANI, “I didn’t anticipate any protests similar this.” This is the biggest change in human resource management that’s ever occurred in Indian military.
Women in combat roles are not eligible for the scheme and there is no plan to alter this.