Kharge writes to President Murmu, reiterates concerns over Agnipath scheme | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kharge writes to President Murmu, reiterates concerns over Agnipath scheme

Feb 26, 2024 01:09 PM IST

Kharge said the scheme is discriminatory as it creates parallel cadres of soldiers expected to do similar tasks but with very different emoluments, benefits, and prospects

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday wrote to President Droupadi Murmu reiterating concerns over the Agnipath scheme for armed services recruitment, which cuts tenure and offers fewer service benefits.

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. (X)
Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge. (X)

Enrolments under the scheme commenced in 2022 despite protests. Agnipath is designed to bring more people into the armed forces on four-year contracts to lower the average age of the military.

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Kharge highlighted the injustice to almost 200,000 young men and women. He said their future has become uncertain due to the ending of the regular recruitment process. “Recently I met them and they told me that between 2019 and 2022, almost two lakh [200,000] young men and women were informed that they had been accepted into the three armed services: the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force,” he wrote.

Kharge added these young men and women struggled against all odds to pass gruelling mental and physical tests and a written exam. “Until 31 May 2022, they believed that they had fulfilled their dreams and were awaiting only their joining letters. On that day, their dreams were shattered by the Government of India’s decision to end this recruitment process and replace it with the Agnipath Scheme.”

He added there are many well-known issues with the Agnipath scheme. “Former Chief of Army Staff General MM Naravane has written that the Army was ‘taken by surprise’ by Agnipath and that ‘for the Navy and Air Force, it came like a bolt from the blue’.”

Kharge said the scheme is discriminatory as it creates parallel cadres of soldiers expected to do similar tasks but with very different emoluments, benefits, and prospects. “The majority of Agniveers will be released into an uncertain job market after four years of service, which some have argued could affect social stability,” he wrote.

“Not only did they spend years in pursuit of this dream, but the 250 each of 50 lakh [five million] applicants had to pay to collect an application form was never refunded, which amounts to a hefty 125 crore taken from these youngsters. The resulting frustration and hopelessness has even led to several reported deaths by suicide.”

Kharge said India’s youth cannot be allowed to suffer in this manner. “I appeal to you to ensure that NYAY and justice is done.”

The Supreme Court last year affirmed the validity of the Agnipath scheme, saying it is neither arbitrary nor does it require judicial interference in the wake of “overarching public interest”.

Those between 17-and-a-half and 21 are eligible to apply for a four-year tenure under the scheme. Agnipath, which allows 25% of the recruits to be granted regular service, is the only recruitment scheme for people below officer rank.

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