K'taka to give preference to 'Agnipath' soldiers

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Friday said the government has planned to give preference to ‘agniveers‘ — soldiers recruited in the Army, Navy and the Air Force on a short-term contract under the special ‘Agnipath‘ scheme — in recruitment to police services in the State.

He said he felt that the Centre and States should look into who are behind instigating military service aspirants to resort to a violent protest on the Agnipath issue in some parts of the country.

“Expressing fear that something might happen in the future one should not burn things like trains and public properties, it (Agnipath) is a new scheme. There are certain sections which don’t want any change in this country, they are behind such things (violent protest),” Jnanendra said.

Speaking to reporters here, he termed the Agnipath scheme as ‘good’, and said in countries like Israel, military service is mandatory, while here the intention is to train (Agniveers) for four years along with a salary, and to induct 25 per cent of them into the military services.

“We have planned to induct such personnel (Agniveers) trained with the military into police services, as it will help us. They will also get various job opportunities, and in times of war or emergencies they can be pressed into service,” he added.

Protests against the Agnipath defence recruitment scheme raged through several States for the third day on Friday with trains torched, public property vandalised and many thousands blocking tracks and highways.

The Union Home Ministry on June 15 announced that the ‘Agniveers’ would get priority in recruitment to the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and the Assam Rifles.

BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh too have announced that they would give priority to ‘Agniveers’ in recruitment to police and related services in their States.

Responding to a question on concerns of job security after four years, the Minister said only those willing to serve for four years can apply to be Agniveers; when there are worries about unemployment, this scheme would help those in need; also they would have various job opportunities like police and security among others in the future having the Agnipath-like military training.

“I’m unable to understand on what basis they (military aspirants) are protesting…Centre and States should look into what forces are behind them,” he added.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the increase in the age-limit for recruitment into defence forces under the ‘Agnipath’ scheme from 21 to 23 proves that the Union government, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, is sensitive to the needs of the people.

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Roy Walsh

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