The Indian Army and Navy began their recruitment processes under the Agnipath scheme on Friday, the defence ministry stated. The Indian Air Force had on June 24 started its recruitment process under the scheme and it received 2.72 lakh applications till Thursday, the ministry said.
Violent protests against the scheme had rocked several states for nearly a week after it was unveiled on June 14 and opposition parties demanded its rollback. The Ministry of Defence on Friday said on Twitter, “Registration for Agniveers in Indian Navy begins today.” “Join the Indian Army. Fulfill your dream of serving the country as Agniveer. Registration open for Agnipath recruitment scheme from July 1,” it said.
Under the Agnipath scheme, youths from 17-and-a-half years to 21 years will be inducted into the armed forces for a four-year tenure, while 25 per cent of them will be subsequently inducted for regular service. The government had on June 16 increased the upper age limit for recruitment under the scheme to 23 years from 21 for this year, and subsequently announced a slew of placatory steps such as a preference for Agniveers in central paramilitary forces and defence public sector undertakings upon their retirement.
Many BJP-ruled states also declared that ‘Agniveers’ — soldiers inducted under the Agnipath scheme — will be accorded priority in induction into state police forces. The armed forces have made it clear those who had indulged in violent protests and arson against the new recruitment scheme will not be inducted.