The Union government on June 16 raised the age limit for the 'Agnipath' recruitment scheme to 23 years from 21 years amid protests in several parts of the country.
Approved by Union cabinet on June 14, the Agnipath Recruitment Scheme aims at inducting around 46,000 youth into the army, navy and air force for a period of four years.
"Cognizant of the fact that it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years, the government has decided that a one-time waiver shall be granted for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022," the government said in a release.
As announced earlier, the age bracket for the recruits under this scheme was between 17-and-a-half years and 21 years. The age-limit extension will, however, be applicable for the first year of recruitment only, the government said.
“Accordingly, the upper age limit for the recruitment process for Agnipath scheme for 2022 is increased to 23 years,” the statement said.The protests against the scheme turned violent on June 16 as army aspirants disrupted rail and road traffic in several parts of Bihar, and other states, for the second consecutive day on June 16, according to a report in NDTV.
Regular recruitment rallies were stopped after the outbreak of COVID-19. The protestors said after two years of waiting, the government had offered this short-term recruitment scheme, which will only create uncertainties in their career.
Many veterans and politicians had criticised the Centre’s new scheme saying that it would end up depriving the recruited personnel of various monetary benefits such as a pension, etc. Further, only 25 percent of the recruits will have a future in the Armed forces after the four-year period, they contended. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs has assured that Aginveers will be prioritised while recruiting Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
Chief of Army staff General Manoj Pande said the decision to extend the age limit will provide an opportunity for many of our young, energetic and patriotic youth who, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, were preparing to join the recruitment rallies, which couldn't be completed in the last two years due COVID restrictions.
"The schedule of recruitment process will be announced shortly. We call upon our youth to avail this opportunity for joining the Indian Army as Agniveers," he said in a statement.