Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday termed the new Agnipath recruitment scheme for the Armed Forces "harmful for youth and country" and asked the Centre to review it.
"Agnipath scheme is harmful for our youth and country. After four years of service, they will be called ex-servicemen and will not get any pension... I think the Central government should review it," Kejriwal said while speaking to the media.
The Centre had launched the Agnipath Scheme on June 14, following which the protests erupted in parts of the country with agitations turning violent in some places like Bihar, and Telangana among others.
Kejriwal had appealed to the Centre to give the youth a chance to "serve the country for the whole life and not only for four years".
"The central government's new scheme in army recruitment is being opposed everywhere in the country. Young people are very angry. Their demands are just right. The Army is the pride of our country, our youth want to give their whole life to the country, don't keep their dreams tied in 4 years," he tweeted earlier in Hindi.
"Appeal to the Central Government- Youth should be given a chance to serve the country for the whole life, not 4 years. Those who were overage due to lack of recruitment in the army for the last two years, should also be given a chance," Kejriwal added.
Meanwhile, soon after announcing that there will be no rollback of the Agnipath Scheme amid protests against the new military recruitment programme, a top army official on Sunday urged the youth to "start preparing" instead of "wasting their time" by taking to the streets.
Speaking to ANI, Lt Gen Anil Puri, Additional Secretary, Department of Military Affairs, said, "By going to the streets, they are only wasting their time, they should spend this time to get themselves physically ready. The worst issue is that today we are not what we were 10 years back. Everything is interconnected. Why roger your future? It's not worth it. I appeal to them to start preparing."
A total of 46,000 Agniveers will be recruited this year but a top military officer said it will go up to 1.25 lakhs in near future. The entry age for all new recruits in the Armed Forces has been fixed as 17.5 to 21 years of age. However, 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 as it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years.
Agniveers will be enrolled for a service duration of 4 years including the training period. After four years, only 25 per cent of the Agniveers will be retained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre based on merit, willingness and medical fitness. These 25 per cent Agniveers will then serve for a full term of another 15 years.
Addressing the concerns over the future of Agniveers and their job security, the Centre approved a proposal to reserve 10 per cent of the job vacancies in the Ministry of Defence for Agniveers meeting requisite eligibility criteria and also decided to give priority to them in the recruitment of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles.
Several state governments like Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka have announced to give Agniveers priority in state government jobs.