New Delhi: Lambasting defense aspirants who were protesting the central government’s Agnipath recruitment scheme, Union Minister and former army chief General (Retired) VK Singh said the military recruitment drive was voluntary and that burning trains and buses wouldn’t help anyone’s cause. “Joining the army is voluntary and not a compulsion. If an aspirant wants to enlist, he can enlist according to his will, we don’t enlist soldiers. But if you don’t like this recruitment program, don’t don’t come (join),” the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency quoted General (Retired) Singh as saying.
“Who is asking you to come? You burn buses and trains. Who told you that you will be recruited into the armed forces? You will only be selected if you meet the eligibility criteria,” he added while addressing reporters on the sidelines of an event in the city of Nagpur, Maharashtra, earlier on Sunday.
Emphasizing that the military is neither an employment agency nor a business or a store, General (Retired) Singh said people join in their interest to serve the nation.
He said the ruling waiver relaxed the age limit for entry to 23 as recruitment into the armed forces remained stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic for two years.
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“If a person has missed previous recruitment opportunities, they can still apply. It is a voluntary program and anyone who meets the criteria can apply,” he added, responding to a poser if dissatisfaction with the Agnipath program would discourage aspirants from showing up at recruitment rallies to join. the armed forces.
General (Retired) Singh also criticized Congress Secretary General Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for her remarks that the Agnipath program will destroy the youth as well as the military.
Former army chief Singh has alleged that Congress finds fault with even the best work of the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as it is upset with the interrogation of party leader Rahul Gandhi by the Directorate of law enforcement (ED).
Claiming that the opposition, especially Congress, is trying to “deceive the young people”, he said: “The only job left for the opposition is to criticize and stop any government scheme. They want to create unrest in the country to defame the government.
The Union Minister said that the concept of the Agnipath program was conceived when the Kargil committee was formed after the 1999 war.
General (Retired) Singh said the demand for mandatory military training for the youth and other citizens of the country dates back to the last 30 to 40 years.
“In the past, it was said that training could be provided by the NCC, but the demand for military training was still there,” he added.
The Agnipath scheme, announced earlier on June 14, provides for the recruitment of young people in the age bracket of 17½ to 21 for just four years with a provision to retain 25% of them for 15 more years. .
The Center later extended the upper age limit to 23 for recruitment in 2022.
Young people joining the armed forces under the Agnipath program will be known as Agniveers.
However, this program has sparked protests in many parts of the country.
As the protests continue unabated, various Union Departments have announced employment opportunities for the Agniveers after their four-year term ends.