Samyukt Kisan Morcha, ex-servicemen to launch nationwide campaign against Agnipath tomorrow

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The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella organisation of farm unions, former servicemen and youths will launch a nationwide campaign against the central government’s new military recruitment scheme, Agnipath on Sunday, August 7. They announced the holding of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Sammelan’ at selected places between August 7 to August 14 to mark the beginning of this campaign.

“Agnipath scheme is disastrous for national security, armed forces, unemployed youths and farming families. The struggle against Agnipath will continue till the scheme is withdrawn,” SKM said.

The press conference was addressed by Major General Satbir Singh, SM (Rtd), Group Captain VK Gandhi (Retired) on behalf of United Front of Ex-Servicemen, Hanan Mollah, Rakesh Tikait and Yogendra Yadav on behalf of Samyukt Kisan Morcha and Aishee Ghosh and Manish on behalf of youth organisations.

“The Agnipath scheme has ‘put to an end the tried and tested method of regular, permanent recruitment to the armed forces. It would mean a drastic reduction in the size of the armed forces from the present sanctioned strength of 14 lakh to merely seven lakh,” the farmer organisation said.

“This is a serious setback to farming families who have contributed to the nation by sending their youths to the armed forces. The scheme means replacing the bulk of the regular recruitment by contractual Agniveers would seriously hamper operational capacity and morale of the armed forces at a time when external threats to national security are on the rise,” it further added.

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“The proposed ‘all India, all class recruitment’ would severely reduce the share of regions like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Uttarakhand, western UP and eastern Rajasthan that have contributed to the armed forces for generations, besides affecting the morale of the regiments,” it said.

“The campaign demands that the pending vacancies (about 1.25 lakh) and the current year vacancies (about 60,000) should be filled immediately following the pre-existing method of regular and permanent recruitment. The recruitment process already initiated must be completed with age-relaxation of two years in lieu of non-recruitment during the last two years,” it said.

“All cases against anti-Agnipath protesters must be withdrawn and the arrested youth must be released forthwith,” the statement said.

WHAT IS JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN SAMMELAN?

Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav said the first step in the campaign would be a ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ conference from August 7 to August 14.

“This campaign aims to educate the public about the disastrous consequences of the controversial Agnipath scheme and compel the Centre, by using democratic, peaceful and constitutional means, to roll it back.

“If the (three) farm laws were dire, the Agnipath scheme is disastrous. With our farmers and soldiers in distress, the backbone of our nation is in danger of being broken. Our silence cannot be the reason for the government to bulldoze and destroy the protectors and feeders of the nation. We have stopped them once, we can stop them again,” Mr. Yadav said at a press conference.

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He said some of the major events under the campaign will take place on Sunday in Haryana’s Jind district, Mathura in Uttar Pradesh and Kolkata. On August 9, the events will be held in Haryana’s Rewari and Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar.

There will be events in Indore and Meerut on August 10 and in Patna on August 11.

WHAT ARE THE DEMANDS?

The demands of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ campaign are:

-Agnipath scheme should be rolled back instantly and all the notifications issued under it must be withdrawn. The time-tested method of regular, permanent recruitment must continue.

-The pending vacancies (about 1.25 lakhs) and the current year’s vacancies (about 60,000) should be filled immediately following the pre-existing method of regular and permanent recruitment.

-The recruitment process already initiated must be completed with age-relaxation of 2 years in lieu of non-recruitment for the last two years.

-All cases against anti-agnipath protestors must be withdrawn and the arrested youth must be released forthwith.

-There should be no privatisation in the defence sector; the government must accept its responsibility for national security & protection of the honour and morale of the armed forces.

— ENDS —

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