Monday, August 8, 2022

Punjab Assembly passes resolution against Agnipath

The Punjab Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution by voice vote against the Agnipath military recruitment scheme, urging the Centre to immediately roll back it in the larger interest of the country.
However, in the 117-member assembly, two BJP MLAs Ashwani Sharma and Jangi Lal Mahajan opposed the resolution.
Punjab has become the first state which passed a resolution against the Agnipath scheme.
Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann moved the resolution against the Agnipath scheme in the House on the concluding day of the budget session here.
Participating in the discussion on the resolution, Mann said he will soon raise the issue of Agnipath scheme with the prime minister and the Union home minister and will demand its roll back or refer it to a defence committee. Vehemently opposing the scheme, Mann said this initiative was against the country’s youth.
Lambasting the BJP-led Centre for this “whimsical” move, the CM dared the BJP leaders to enroll their own sons as Agniveers before supporting this “anti-youth” move.
He said that those who are advocating this move should set an example by sending their sons first in the Army under the scheme.
“In this way, they will get a fresh young lot of Agniveers who will be saluting their leaders in their offices, after a service of four years,” Mann said.
Calling it as an “illogical” move that will “jeopardize” the national security, besides damaging the basic spirit of the Indian Army, Mann advised the BJP leaders to stop building castles in air to support this move which is detrimental to the interests of the country.
He said this scheme is against the ethos of love and passion of a youth for his country and the armed forces. Asking the BJP leaders to explain how the country will combat its infiltrators and enemies with an “Army on rent”, Mann cautioned them that this move will “prove fatal for the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country in the coming times”.
Citing examples of how the Indian Army has a glorious tradition of taking care of the families of the martyred soldiers, Mann also asked the BJP leaders to explain that if any soldier, enrolled under the scheme, attains martyrdom during call of duty then who will take care of their families as there is no such provision in it.
Mann claimed that under this scheme, a soldier will not get the status of a martyr. While opposing the resolution, BJP MLA Ashwani Sharma said that there should be no politics over the issue related to security of the country and also underscored the need for understanding this scheme. He said this scheme was aimed at instilling discipline and patriotism among the youth.
Leader of Opposition and Congress legislator Partap Singh Bajwa demanded that the Agnipath scheme should be withdrawn.
“I want to say to the Central government that do not play with fire,” said Bajwa as he also referred to the three farm laws which were later repealed following the opposition from farmer bodies.
Bajwa alleged that the Centre came up with the Agnipath scheme just to run away from paying pension to the soldiers.
“What is the need for such an experiment,” asked Bawja.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali supported the resolution and demanded the scheme’s rollback while adding that it has cheated the youth who aspire to join the forces.
According to the resolution, the House recommends to the state government to take up the matter with the Union government in order to roll back the Agnipath scheme immediately.
“The unilateral announcement of the Agnipath scheme by the Government of India has witnessed widespread reactions in all states, including Punjab,” said Mann while reading the resolution.
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha strongly feels that the scheme where youth will be employed only for a period of four years and only up to 25 per cent will be retained, is neither in the best interests of national security nor of the youth of this country, the resolution said.
“This policy is likely to create dissatisfaction among the youth who wish to serve the armed forces of the nation for a lifetime,” said Mann.
More than one lakh soldiers from Punjab serve in the armed forces of the nation and many of them give the supreme sacrifice of their life on the borders of the country every year, he said.
“The youth of Punjab consider serving in the Indian armed forces as a matter of pride and honour and are renowned for their valour and courage.
“This scheme has crushed the dreams of many youths of Punjab who have been aspiring to join the armed forces as regular soldiers,” said Mann.
The scheme also has the propensity to weaken the long standing esprit de corps of the armed forces, said Mann while moving the resolution.
Protests had erupted in various parts of the country after the Centre unveiled the Agnipath scheme to recruit youngsters aged between 17-and-a-half and 21 years in the army, navy and air force, largely on a four-year contractual basis. It later relaxed the upper age limit for this year’s recruitment to 23.
Mann had on Tuesday said in the assembly that his government will bring a resolution against the Agnipath scheme, asserting that the Centre’s military recruitment initiative will destroy the basic fabric of the Indian Army.


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