The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation of various farmers’ organisations and ten Central Trade Unions (CTUs), held joint protests against the Agnipath scheme at various locations across the country on Friday. The SKM said civil society organisations and students also joined the protests against “the anti-military, anti-farmer and anti-national scheme.” The SKM also sent a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind urging his intervention so that the scheme could be dropped.
The SKM said protest demonstrations were held at district and block headquarters in States such as Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. They urged the President to cancel the Agnipath scheme and restore regular recruitment in the army against 1,25,000 vacancies at present and about 60,000 posts which will become vacant this year. The SKM demanded that an age relaxation of two years should be given to the youth for general recruitment and all false cases against the protesters must be withdrawn and arrested youth should be freed.
The SKM said the Agnipath scheme is a big fraud upon the nation. “Stopping the recruitment process which had started in 2020-21 is playing with the dreams of the youths, and reducing the number of recruits in the Army, reducing the length of service to 4 years, and ending pension is an injustice to all the youth and families who saw the armed forces as a career along with the service of the country,” the SKM said.
They said replacing the regiment’s social character with ‘All Class All India’ recruits would be a huge blow to the regions and communities that have served the nation through the army for generations. “These include areas like Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, western Uttar Pradesh and eastern Rajasthan,” the SKM statement said.
In Haryana, the activists of the SKM gathered at Hisar, Panipat, Bhiwani, Karnal, and Ambala, and staged demonstrations against the scheme. The protesters demanded that the scheme be immediately withdrawn and the recruitment for the armed forces be carried out as per the earlier terms and conditions. Apart from the activists of SKM, ex-servicemen, army aspirants, women, retired employees and supporters of students and youth organisations also joined the protests at several places. Protesters demanded the cancellation of all police cases against the youth at various places. The SKM has said that the protest actions of the youth are assuming an organised and peaceful form.