Thirty-five WhatsApp groups have been banned for allegedly spreading fake news about the Centre’s new Agnipath scheme, sources have said. The ban comes amid violent protests over the planned short-term recruitment in the armed forces, which is set to start this year. The military has accused coaching centres of instigating the young people.
Over the last few days, there has been widespread violence especially in north India, including the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan and Haryana. Trains and stations were set ablaze, roads were blocked and several people died.
Following the protests, which started after the scheme was announced earlier this week, the government has issued multiple assurances to allay concerns over unemployment of Agniveers after four years in the military.
Earlier today, the three services of the armed forces ruled out the rollback of the scheme, announced a broad schedule of enrollment and asserted that it was aimed at bringing down the age profile of the armed forces.
Declaring that discipline is a basic need for the armed forces, the navy said all Agniveers will have to give a pledge that he/she never took part in any arson or protest. If there is any First Information Report against any candidate, they cannot be a part of Agniveers, the Navy said at a tri-services joint briefing.
“The Agniveer Scheme will not be rolled back, and why should it be rolled back? Our aspirations for a change have been there for the past several decades,” said Lt. General Anil Puri, who is the Additional Secretary in the Department of Military Affairs.
A large number of jawans are in their 30s according to Kargil Review Committee and the Arun Singh Committee, the army said. There have already been lengthy discussions on how to bring down the age profile of the army. Studies have been made of foreign forces.
“We want youth. Youth is a risk-taker, has passion. We wanted a component of josh (enthusiasm) and hosh (intelligence) in equal proportion,” said Lieutenant General Anil Puri.
“We did not anticipate any such protests. It is not our job. It is a law and order issue,” he added.
The army has said the notifications for recruitment will be published online on July 1. The rallies for recruitment will start in the first half of August.