As protests against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme intensified, the Army, Navy and the Air Force on Friday announced that they will start the enrolment process under the new model by next week while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to the youths wanting to join the armed forces to start preparing for the induction.
Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari told PTI that the selection process by the Indian Air Force for recruitment under the new scheme will start from June 24 while the Army said it will begin the initial exercise within two days.
While the Indian Navy said it will start the recruitment process “very soon”, a senior naval commander said the notification for the recruitment would be out within a week.
The three services are planning to deploy the first batches of recruits under the new scheme both in operational and non-operational roles by June next year, senior military officials said.
The officials also said the agitating youths are not fully aware of the benefits of the Agnipath scheme.
In an attempt to pacify the protesters, the government on Thursday night increased the upper age limit for recruitment for soldiers under the Agnipath scheme to 23 years from 21 for the year 2022.
Defence Minister Singh, on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, said the relaxation of the age limit indicates that the government cares for the youth and asserted that the model of recruitment is a “golden opportunity” for those wanting to join the country’s defence system.
He said the Department of Military Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the three services are committed to commencing the recruitment process at the earliest and invited the youths to join the Indian armed forces and “serve the nation through Agnipath”.
Unveiling the scheme on Tuesday, the government said youths between the ages of 17 and-a-half and 21 years would be inducted for a four-year tenure while 25 per cent of them will be subsequently inducted for regular service.