New Delhi: Terming it a scheme for destroying national spirit, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) on late Monday evening announced that its constituent farmers’ organisations will observe national protest day on June 24 against the recently announced Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces.
The SKM - a collective of over 40 farmers’ organisations – that spearheaded the fhistoric movement for repealing of three contentious farm laws said that the scheme was “anti-military, anti-farmer and anti-national.”
It said the Central government was bent upon destroying the spirit of the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”, thus it was the duty of the farmer’s movement to stand shoulder to shoulder with the jawans in this struggle. Accordingly, SKM will observe protest day across the country on this Friday, June 24.
Darshan Pal, president, Krantikari Kisan Union, said the BJP-led government was not only playing with national security and dreams of unemployed youth, but also with farmer families of the country. In a statement, he said: “the jawan of this country is a uniformed farmer. Most of the soldiers are from farmer families. Army job is tied to the honour and economic strength of lakhs of farmer families. It is a matter of shame for the country that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who started his victory campaign by rallying ex-servicemen with the promise of “One Rank One Pension”, has now launched this scheme of “No Rank No Pension”. The huge cut in regular recruitment in the Army is a betrayal of the farmer sons who had cherished the dream of serving in the army for years.”
Pal said it was not a coincidence that in this scheme, recruiting under the rule of “All India All Class” would result in the biggest reduction in recruitment from the very areas where the farmer’s movement was more active. “This government, stunned by its defeat at the hands of the farmer’s movement, has another ploy to take revenge on the farmers,” he added.
The SKM has decided to observe a nationwide protest on June 24, as it is the day of the start of Agnipath recruitment.
Pal said a memorandum would be submitted to the President of India, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, after organising peaceful demonstrations in all district, tehsil or block headquarters with the slogan “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”.
An effigy of the Union Government will be burned, he said, and appealed to all the youth opposing this scheme to join the ‘protest day’ but by respecting the dignity of this peaceful protest.
Ashok Dhawale, president, All India Kisan Sabha, told NewsClick over phone that the scheme had increased the anxiety of rural youth whose families had over the years lost their incomes owing to agrarian distress.
“It has been our experience that most of jawans belong to rural families and in the Army they found some solace, as it guaranteed income and pensions. The young boys who would retire with pittance in savings will be additional burden on families. The farming families are hardly earning”, he said, referring to the findings of 77th round of National Sample Survey Office which suggested that more than 50% of farming households were indebted with an average loan of Rs 74,121.
Dhawale said the government’s focus should be on filling vacancies in the armed forces as well as paramilitary forces. As per information on the website of Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, there were nearly nine lakh vacancies in civilian positions and over one lakh vacancies in paramilitary forces.
In a reply furnished by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai in Parliament, there are 73,219 vacancies in the Central Armed Police Force and 18,124 vacancies in the Union Territory Police Forces. There are 1,969 vacancies in Gazetted posts, 23,129 vacancies in Subordinate Officer posts and 48,121 vacancies in Other Ranks in Central Armed Police Forces.
Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), National Security Guard (NSG), and Special Protection Group (SPG) are included in the Central Armed Police Forces. There are 305 vacancies in Gazetted posts, 25,281 vacancies in Subordinate Officer posts and 15,291 vacancies in the Delhi Police, and police forces of other Union territories. This apart, 38,873 posts are vacant in Centre administered education institutions.
Dhawale cautioned that trained and unemployed youth could become easy fodder for militant Hindutva organisations, who would encash their anger to pour more hate in the society. “Hitler used such young persons as his stormtroopers. In India, these organisations have already been lynching people on mere charges of beef consumption, participation in Hindu festivals and other numerous reasons. It may become a reality that these young persons are used in genocides. It is very scary!” he added.