Protest in Bihar over Agnipath scheme to recruit soldiers

Hundreds of protesters blocked national highways and railway tracks in different parts of the State

June 15, 2022 07:00 pm | Updated 07:00 pm IST - Patna

A file photo of aspirants undergoing a physical test on the last day of an Army recruitment drive near Patna.

A file photo of aspirants undergoing a physical test on the last day of an Army recruitment drive near Patna. | Photo Credit: RANJEET KUMAR

Hundreds of protesters blocked national highways and railway tracks in different parts of Bihar on Wednesday over the Central government’s Agnipath scheme to recruit youth into the armed forces on short-term contract.

The protesters blocked National Highway-28 in Muzaffarpur and disrupted movement of trains in Buxar district while burning tyres and shouting slogans such as “Bharti do ya arthi do (recruit us or get us killed)”.

They said that under the Agnipath scheme, which was announced on June 14, only up to 25% of the recruits, or Agniveers, would get permanent commission in the service and the rest would be jobless thereafter.

“The government is playing a game like PUBG with us. We’ll continue to protest until the government takes some meaningful decision on this to help us,” said the protesters in Muzaffarpur while asking, “Why has no BJP leader said anything even when their government was holding back recruitment in defence services for so long?”

The recruitment, they said, in defence services was held up due to COVID-19 for the past two years. The age for recruitment under the Agnipath scheme is between 17.5 years and 21 years. “Even MPs and MLAs get five years term. What we’ll do with just four years of job?”, they asked in Buxar, where the railway tracks were later cleared after police pacified the protesters.

The Central government, though, has called the scheme “historic” while, announcing that about 45,000 soldiers will be recruited into the defence services on short-term contract which would eventually enable a youthful profile of the armed forces and also reduce the salary and pension bill burden on the government.

The recruitment of Agniveers would begin in the next 90 days and the first batch will be ready by July 2023. “The government should give Agniveers 20-30% reservation in other jobs once they will be out of service after four years under Agnipath scheme,” a protester in Buxar said.

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