Congress MP seeks urgent meeting of Parl panel on defence amid Agnipath protests
Agnipath protests: Congress MP KC Venugopal further said all major stakeholders and defence experts be invited to the meeting for their opinion and input on the issue.
Congress MP KC Venugopal on Friday wrote to the chairman of the Standing Committee on Defence, Jual Oram, urging him to convene an urgent meeting to discuss and deliberate on the Centre's Agniveer Recruitment Scheme in the wake of violent protests across the country.
He further said all major stakeholders and defence experts be invited to the meeting for their opinion and input on the issue.
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Venugopal said there is widespread anger among the youth regarding the scheme, particularly due to its temporary nature, lack of pension and healthcare benefits.
“It is also pointed out that the scheme carries multiple risks, including the sub-version of the long-standing traditions of the armed forces. There is also wide apprehension that the soldiers recruited under the scheme may lack required training in the proposed short span of six months,” the Rajya Sabha MP added.
Also read | 1 dead in violent ‘Agnipath’ protests at Secunderabad railway station
Stating that it is evident the scheme is poorly conceived and hastily drawn up without any wide consultations with stakeholders, the Congress lawmaker urged that a meeting of the standing committee be called at the earliest to discuss and deliberate on the Agnipath scheme in detail.
Later, he told reporters the Congress stands in solidarity with the youth agitating against the Agnipath scheme. “These protests are a natural reaction of the youth to this scheme. We will take up this issue with the President of India (on June 20),” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The new scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and Air Force was announced by the service chiefs on Tuesday at a press conference with defence minster Rajnath Singh. It was projected by the Narendra Modi government as a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process to boost the youthful profile of the three services.
Also read | Service chiefs mount Agnipath defence as protests rage
The government increased the upper-age limit for recruitment under the "Agnipath" scheme to 23 years from 21 years for the year 2022 in the wake of widespread protests against the new model for enrolment of soldiers in the three services.