Amid violent protests against the Agnipath scheme, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Tuesday addressed some of the concerns of the people. He said that the entire Army will not comprise of ‘Agniveers’. “As far as regiments are concerned, two things need to be understood. Nobody is tinkering with the concept of regiments. The regimental system has not ended,” he added.
Doval further dispelled fears of Agniveers released from Services becoming mercenaries for hire. “It’s totally invalid. I can tell that if there’s any guarantee in the society to keep peace and stability, it’ll be the civilian population that has to become law-abiding,” the NSA told news agency ANI.
The “transformative” Agnipath scheme, announced by Union Minister Rajnath Singh on June 14, in the presence of the three service chiefs provides for the recruitment of into the Armed services of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-a-half-years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. The Centre later extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.
Several states across the country have been witnessing violent protests since the scheme was announced. Sixty train coaches and property worth about Rs 700 crore have been burnt in Bihar in the past four days by those protesting against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme.
The Army, Navy and the Air Force on Sunday came out with a broad schedule for recruitment of soldiers under the Agnipath scheme while asserting that it is being implemented to bring down the age profile of the armed forces.
Here are Top Quotes from His Speech:
• Doval said in the future we are heading towards a scenario where there will be contactless wars against invisible enemies and the country needs a young fit and agile army.
• “The whole war is undergoing a great change. We are going toward contactless wars and also going towards the war against the invisible enemy. Technology is taking over at a rapid pace. If we have to prepare for tomorrow, then we have to change, Doval said in an interview to ANI.
• The NSA said that security is a dynamic concept and it cannot remain static. “It is only in relation with the environment in which we have to protect our national interest and national assets.”
• “There is a need to look at it (The Agnipath Scheme) in a perspective. Agnipath is not a standalone scheme in itself. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, one of his prime priorities was how to make India secure and strong. That required many avenues, many steps – multitude of them,” he said.
• On involvement of coaching centres in violence, Doval said, “FIRs lodged, accused identified, after due probe we can say who were the forces behind it. An investigation must be done and thoroughly so.”
• “I think that the protests, raising your voice is justified and is permitted in a democracy. But this vandalism, this violence is not permitted and will not be tolerated at all,” Doval said.
• We have good relations with our neighbours incl Pakistan. We would like to have normal relations with Pakistan but the certainly tolerance threshold for terrorism is very low, the NSA said. “We can’t have peace & war at the choice of our adversary. If we’ve to protect our interests, then we will decide when and with whom and on what terms we will have peace,” he added.
• My message to the youth who want to become ‘Agniveers’ is that be positive, have faith in the nation, have faith in the leadership and also in yourself, Doval said.
• Ruling out rollback of Agnipath scheme for recruitment in armed forces, the National Security Advisor of India said that the government’s move was “not a knee-jerk reaction that has come overnight” but has been debated and discussed for over decades.
• “Let me tell you one thing. This is not a knee-jerk reaction that has come overnight. This has been debated and discussed for over decades. In 1970s, we had committees that talked about reorganisation and reforming the army including the usage of manpower, technology and others,” he said.