Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday assured full support to the Indian Army’s Agnipath recruitment drives and asserted that “any laxity" from the local civil administration in the military recruitment scheme will be viewed seriously. His response came after the force’s zonal office had said that it will recommend its headquarters to “hold in abeyance" its recruitment rallies in the state due to a “lack of support" from local authorities.
Taking to Twitter, Mann shared a The Indian Express report on the Army’s letter and directed all deputy commissioners to provide complete support to the Army authorities for recruitment drives. He said, “Every effort will be made to recruit a maximum number of candidates into the army from the state."
All Deputy commissioners were directed to provide complete support to Army Authorities for recruitment of Agniveers in Punjab.Any laxity shall be viewed seriously.Every effort will be made to recruit maximum number of candidates in to army from the state. pic.twitter.com/KKDZW9OJoR— Bhagwant Mann (@BhagwantMann) September 14, 2022
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal also said that the Aam Aadmi Party-led government in Punjab will “fully support" the Agnipath scheme. The party had earlier criticized the scheme and appealed to the Centre to give defence job aspirants the chance to serve the country throughout their life, not just four years. “We had differences with the Centre on Agnipath scheme but since the Centre has implemented it we will support it fully. We will completely cooperate with the scheme and the Army," Kejriwal said.
In a letter addressed to Punjab Chief Secretary VK Janjua and Principal Secretary (Employment Generation) Kumar Rahul, Army’s Jalandhar Cantt zonal recruitment officer had said, “We are constrained to bring to your kind attention that the support from the local civil administration is vacillating with no clear-cut commitments. They are usually citing their inadequacies due to lack of directions from the state government at Chandigarh or lack of funds".
“We are now thus compelled to bring to your kind notice that unless clear-cut commitments are not received in writing on issues raised, we would be taking up the case with Army Headquarters to hold in abeyance all future recruitment rallies and procedures in the state of Punjab, alternately conduct rallies in neighboring states," the letter further said.
On being asked about the Army’s letter, Punjab Minister Harpal Singh Cheema said he is not aware of the issue and added that people from the state had been getting recruited into the Army. “But we opposed the ‘Agniveer’ scheme earlier also and we are opposing it even today," the minister said.
The Army’s zonal officer had said the support from the local administration for rallies under the scheme is “vacillating". The letter had said there was a need for police assistance for law and order, security, crowd control, and essential barricading to enable controlled and smooth entry of candidates to the rally ground.
It also said cited the need for medical support during the drive besides basic amenities of rain shelters, water, mobile portable toilets, and food for prospective candidates.
After Punjab CM’s intervention, Deputy Commissioner Jaspreet Singh said that the district administration is ready to assist authorities conducting recruitment by making all the necessary arrangements and facilities available at the stipulated locations. Issuing a statement, Singh said that recruitment rally is expected to take place in the month of November and effective steps would be taken for smooth conduct of the recruitment.
“We will put in place adequate arrangements and facilities at the locations set for recruitment in time to come so as to facilitate the large number of aspirants to visit in recruitment rally," he added.
The Agnipath scheme, launched in June this year, seeks to recruit soldiers in the Army, Navy and Air Force on a short-term contract of four years.
(with inputs from PTI)
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