For first time, service chiefs being fronted to defend govt decision: Mallikarjun Kharge on Agnipath scheme

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday attacked the Centre over the ‘Agnipath‘ scheme and said that for the first time in 75 years, service chiefs are being fronted to defend a policy decision taken by the government.

With the government standing its ground on the contentious ‘Agnipath’ scheme for short-term recruitment in the armed forces, the three services on Sunday came out with a broad schedule of enrolment under the new policy and warned that those who indulged in violence and arson will not be inducted.

A tri-services media briefing at the Defence Ministry took place hours after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a meeting with the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force for the second straight day.

“For the first time in 75 years, service chiefs are being fronted to defend a policy decision by the government,” Kharge said on Twitter.

“Why are the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister quiet on the Agnipath scheme?” the senior Congress leader asked.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths in the age bracket of 17-and-half to 21 years in the armed forces for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

Youths in several parts of the country have been protesting against the contentious scheme. Over the past few days, incidents of protesters vandalising railway stations, setting trains on fire and blocking roads and railway tracks have been reported from different cities and towns.

Besides various ministers, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the top brass of the armed forces has also been putting up a stout defence of the new scheme through press conferences and other forums.

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