Central Trade Unions Join Call to Withdraw Agnipath as Protests Intensify
New Delhi: The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) have termed the Narendra Modi government’s armed forces recruitment scheme Agnipath “anti-national” and demanded its immediate withdrawal as protests continued in several states on Friday.
Under the scheme, around 45,000 below-officer rank personnel, called Agniveers, will be recruited within 90 days for only four years. After the completion of service, only 25% will be absorbed for another 15 years based on merit and performance. The rest will be provided with an exit tax-free package of Rs 11.71 lakhs and a skill certificate.
AITUC demanded immediate withdrawal of the “scatterbrained” scheme, which has “fooled no one”. “Retired military commanders are flabbergasted. They have warned that on the one hand, Agnipath will weaken the military establishment and on the other, endanger society at large when Agniveers are let loose on the streets, unemployed and without a pension,” an AITUC statement issued on Friday read.
CITU expressed concern and shock on Thursday at the “latest disastrous design” of the Bharatiya Janata Party government of recruiting armed forces personnel on “fixed-term contracts that too without any provisions of pension”.
The new military scheme introduces casualisation in the recruitment of the armed forces with the Centre remaining “unconcerned” about its “dangerous consequences”, CITU said. “This exposes the hypocrisy of the Modi government’s concern for our jawans, which it has been evoking to promote its pseudo-nationalism and fake patriotism,” it said.
Protests against the scheme intensified across the country for the third consecutive day with protesters setting trains on fire and blocking roads. The protests spread from several parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to Haryana and Madhya Pradesh too, NDTV reported.
“The young soldiers trained and deployed under Agnipath scheme will be terminated after four years and face an uncertain future, creating serious hazardous implications for society as a whole under an authoritarian and divisive governance,” Tapan Sen, general secretary, CITU, said on Thursday.
The Agnipath scheme is a “retrograde” move, Sen added, that will “severely compromise as well as negatively affect the quality of employment and efficiency of our armed forces”.
Meanwhile, facing protests and Opposition criticism, the Centre introduced the first amendment to the scheme by raising the age cap from 21 years to 23.
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