India’s military recruitment system is reaping fierce protests

In India, there are widespread protests against the new military recruitment system.

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, LUCKNOW — Police in northern India opened fire in the air Thursday to push back stone-throwing mobs. Authorities shut down mobile internet in at least one district to prevent further chaos as protests against it spread military recruitment system the new.

Government of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this week a recruitment overhaul for India’s 1.38 million armed forces. This change aims to lower the average age of staff and reduce pension spending.

But potential recruits, military veterans, opposition leaders and even some members of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have objected to the changed admissions process. According to video recordings from partners Reuters ANI, In Palwal district of northern Haryana state, some 50km south of the capital New Delhi, crowds threw stones at the homes of government officials and police officers who were protecting the building by opening fire to disperse crowds.

“Yes, we fired several shots to bring the crowd under control,” said a local police officer who asked not to be named.

Haryana’s information department said mobile internet was temporarily suspended in Palwal district for the next 24 hours.

Protesters in the eastern Indian state of Bihar set fire to the BJP office in the city of Nawada, attacked rail infrastructure and blocked roads. The demonstrations spread to several parts of the country. According to railway officials and testimonies, protesters also attacked railway facilities in Bihar, unloading wagons in at least two locations, damaging railway tracks and destroying a train station.

The new recruitment system, called Agnipath, or ‘fireway’ in Hindi, will accept men and women between the ages of 17.5 and 21 for a four-year tenure at the rank of non-commissioned officer, with only one in a quarter numbered as it gets longer groomed.

Before this rule, members of the army had been recruited separately from the army, navy and air force. They usually enter service up to 17 years for the lowest rank.

The shorter tenure has raised concerns among potential recruits. “Where are we going after only four years of work?” said a young man surrounded by other protesters in Bihar’s Jehanabad district and recounted ANI.

“We will be homeless after four years of service. So we create traffic jams,” he said.

Smoke billows from a burning tire at an intersection in Jehanabad. The protesters chanted slogans and did push-ups to show their fitness for military service.

Bihar and neighboring Uttar Pradesh witnessed rail job recruitment protests in January this year, underscoring India’s ongoing unemployment problem.

Uttar Pradesh BJP MP Varun Gandhi said Thursday in a letter to India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh that 75 percent of those recruited under the scheme would become unemployed after four years in office. “Every year this number will increase,” Gandhi said, according to a copy of the letter he posted on social media.

Source: Reuters

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