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No Agnipath rollback, applicants must pledge they didn’t take part in protests, says Lt Gen Puri

Lt Gen Anil Puri, the top military officer in charge of the scheme, said that the recruitment scheme was a ‘God-sent opportunity’ to reduce the age profile of the armed forces.

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New Delhi: Making it clear that there will be no rollback of the Centre’s Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the armed forces, Lt Gen Anil Puri, the top military officer in charge of the scheme said Sunday that it is the only way to make the forces “younger” and more technology-oriented.

Speaking at a press conference, Lt Gen Puri, who is additional secretary to the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), said the army has been trying to bring down its average age profile for the last 33 years, but has been unsuccessful.

According to the officer, in the last two years, no recruitment rallies could be held due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which was an opportunity to bring to fruition the delayed plans to have a younger army.

Asked whether the government was reconsidering the scheme amid the fervent protests against it in several states, Lt Gen Puri said: “No, why should there be a rollback? It is the only provision for making the Army younger.”

With Agnipath, the average age in the army will come down to just 26 from 32 years, which will be similar to the age profile of other modern armies in the world, he added.

The officer explained that it was in 1989 that the thought process to decrease the average age first came about, and a need for the same was also mentioned by the Kargil Review Committee.

He also said that the Agnipath scheme had been discussed by all service chiefs and Chief of Defence Staff late Gen Bipin Rawat over the last two years, with multiple studies focussing on different aspects.

Asked if he anticipated that violent protests would break out in the country against the scheme, he said it wasn’t their job, but a law and order problem.

Also Read: Why BJP finds itself isolated from allies JD-U, HAM as Agnipath protests set Bihar on fire

‘Applicants will have to pledge they didn’t take part in protests’

At the press conference, Lt Gen Puri also said that individuals applying for the Agnipath scheme will have to give undertakings that they were not involved in any kind of protests, arson or vandalism.

Youth should not indulge in arson and should focus on preparing for the physical examination to appear for the Agnipath scheme, he added.

Anyone indulging in violence will not be made part of the armed forces since all of them will have to get police verification done, the officer further said.

The Agnipath scheme will be rolled out within the next couple of weeks, announced Lt Gen Puri, adding that the first batch will undergo training between November and December this year, depending on the schedule of each service.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

Also Read: Coaching centres in UP, Bihar caught in the crosshairs in wake of Agnipath protests

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