A nationwide day of protest was observed on Friday by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) against the Centre's Agnipath scheme.
Protests were held in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Uttarakhand, and Tamil Nadu.
Farm organizations, Trade Unions, Civil Society Organizations and Students came together in protest against the scheme terming it anti-military and anti-farmer.
The farm unions placed the following demands before the President of India -- the cancellation of the Agnipath scheme immediately and completely, restoring regular recruitment in the army against the previous 1,25,000 vacancies and about 60,000 posts to be vacant this year, ongoing recruitment to be completed and in lieu of non-recruitment for the last two years, age relaxation of two ears to be given to the youth for general recruitment, no imposition of the condition to make an affidavit, withdrawal of all false cases registered against youths involved in anti-Agnipath protests, and release of arrested youths.
SKM termed the Agnipath scheme a big fraud upon the nation, for the youth aspiring to join the armed forces, and for the farmer families of the nation.
"Stopping the recruitment process which had started in 2020-21 is playing with the dreams of the youths, and reducing the number of recruits in the army, reducing the length of service to four years, and ending pension is an injustice to all the youth and families who saw the armed forces as a career along with the service of the country," it said in an official statement.
It is a great injustice to the youth to make three-fourths of the Agniveers stand on the road after four years of service.
The SKM also added, "Replacing the regiment's social character with "All Class All India" recruits would be a huge blow to the regions and communities that have served the nation through the army for generations. These include areas like Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, western Uttar Pradesh and eastern Rajasthan."
SKM termed the Agnipath Scheme as part of a wider campaign of this Government to establish company rule over agriculture. All permanent government jobs are being given on contract or changed into contract jobs, the national resources are being sold to private companies, and the policy of the whole country is being made to serve the interests of a few corporate houses.
"All such policies are being made hidden from the public and public representatives, and those who oppose them are being brutally repressed," it said.
"It is surprising that the government did not follow any minimum procedure before announcing such big and far-reaching changes. No "pilot" exercise of the new recruitment process was done anywhere. There was no discussion on these proposals before either the Houses of Parliament or the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense Affairs," it further added.
It said that no consultation was ever held with the stakeholders (aspirants of recruitment, serving jawans and officers, public representatives of the areas of intensive recruitment and the general public) who were affected by this scheme. (ANI)