Rajasthan Cabinet passes resolution demanding withdrawal of Agnipath scheme

To increase efficiency in the Army, it is crucial to have permanent soldiers instead of short-term recruits, so that the country can reap the benefit of their experience, the govt said in a statement

Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot outside his official residence in Jaipur
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot outside his official residence in Jaipur
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Prakash Bhandari

As violent protests against the Centre's new short-term recruitment policy for armed forces continue in parts of the country, the Rajasthan Cabinet has passed a resolution demanding the withdrawal of the Centre's Agnipath scheme keeping in mind the "larger public interest and the sentiments of the youths".

A meeting of the State Council of Ministers was held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at the Chief Minister's residence in Jaipur on Saturday where concerns were expressed over the nationwide protests against the Agnipath scheme of the Central Government.

"In the meeting of the State Council of Ministers, it was discussed that the Indian Army is the bravest in the world and is known for its indomitable courage. Whole country takes pride in the Indian Army's glorious history. To maintain dignity and prestige of the Indian Army, it is necessary to have skill, experience and stability in the forces.

"To increase efficiency in the Army, it is crucial to have permanent soldiers instead of short-term recruits, so that the country can reap the benefit of their experience. The Army must be equipped with all the resources and must be continuously strengthened," read a statement by the Rajasthan government.

Noting the massive protests across the country regarding the provisions in the scheme, the state government said it is of the view that the Centre should have had a comprehensive discussion with all the stakeholders before introducing any such scheme.

"It was discussed in the meeting that, many military experts are of the opinion that the Agnipath scheme will neither secure the future of the youths nor will the country's Army face the challenges with full confidence Experts say that there should be regular recruitment in the country's Army, along with better training soldiers must get all the benefits so that their future and their family's future can be secured," the statement added.

Under the Agnipath scheme, recruits will serve in the Armed Forces for four years. These soldiers will be known as Agniveer. Following protests, the central government announced an increase in the upper age limit for the recruitment of Agniveers from 21 years to 23 years for the recruitment cycle of 2022.

On Sunday, the Congress held a satyagrah at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi agaisnt this scheme and its leaders urged the agitating youth to stay calm and not indulge in violence.

The Congress has urged the government to keep the Agnipath scheme in abeyance, hold wide consultations with serving and retired officers, and address the issues of quality, efficiency and economy without compromising on any of the three considerations.

However, on Sunday the armed forces announced they were going ahead with the controversial recruitment scheme and announced a broad schedule for the same.