Defence Minister meets top Army, Navy and IAF officers amid Agnipath protesttext_fields
NEW DELHI: As protests against the 'Agnipath' military recruitment scheme intensify in various parts of the country, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday met top Army, Navy and Air Force officials to discuss the overall situation of its implementation.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar and Vice Chief of Army Staff Gen B S Raju had attended the meeting.
It is learnt that the meeting focused on speeding up the 'Agnipath' project and finding ways to placate the protesters. Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande was unable to be a part of the meeting as he was on an official visit to Hyderabad.
The Army, Navy and Air Force announced Friday that the new model of enrollment process is due to begin by next week.
Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari told PTI that the selection process for the Indian Air Force for recruitment under the new scheme would begin from June 24, while the Army said their initial exercise would begin in two days.
The Indian Navy recruitment process would begin "very soon". A senior naval commander said the notification for recruitment would be issued within a week.
Senior military officials said that all three services plan to deploy the first batch of recruits under the new scheme into operational and non-operational roles by June next year.
In an effort to appease protesters, the government on Thursday night raised the upper age limit for recruitment under the 'Agnipath' scheme from 21 to 23 years for 2022.
On Tuesday, the government made the scheme public, in which young people between the ages of 17 and 21 would be for four years and 25 per cent of them for later permanent service.
Unveiling the scheme on Tuesday, the government said youths between the ages of 17 and-a-half and 21 years would be recruited on a contractual basis for four-year tenure. 25 percent of these inductees would subsequently be taken into the forces for regular service.
The youth recruited under the new scheme will be called 'Agniveer'. The main goal of the scheme is to reduce the average age of military personnel and cut ballooning salaries and pension bills.
The announcement comes amid more than two years of stagnant recruitment to the military following the corona virus pandemic.
Every year 50,000 to 60,000 soldiers are recruited by the army. However, recruitment has not been possible for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.