‘PM needs third chance but will retire us in 4 years’: Haryana youth angry over Agniveer

The youth say their passion to join the army has taken a hit after the introduction of the Agniveer scheme.

WrittenBy:Basant Kumar

The fields of Rajiv Gandhi College in Haryana’s Uchana, about 25 kilometres from Jind, has been the training grounds of generations of army aspirants. But the numbers have dwindled from hundreds to merely 15-20 youth in recent years. More so, after the introduction of the Agniveer recruitment scheme, claim locals.

One of the youth, Kunal Chahal, who drops in at the college to train at 5 am, says joining the armed forces is his “dream” – which has also turned into agony. He has tattooed the word “Army” on his arms with a blade and says he is “angry with the BJP” because the “Agniveer is a useless plan”. “He himself [PM Modi] is asking for a third chance at the age of 73 but is retiring us in four years. Agniveer is a useless plan.”        

In Haryana – which sends a large number of youth to the army – many share Kunal’s views. As Newslaundry spoke to the locals of Kurukshetra, Jind, Charkhi Dadri and Rohtak, we learned that there is wide-spread resentment over the Agniveer scheme, under which the army recruits will need retire after a term of four years and reapply to continue in the armed forces.     

Locals said the youth have started to become “disillusioned with the army” and many are vying for opportunities abroad – through legal and illegal means – with families even selling their land to send their children abroad.  

Krishna Chahal, a local at a village in Jind, complains that recruits “will not even get pensions. Agniveer Yojana is a blot on the name of the country. Almost all the boys in my village have stopped preparing for the army”. 

Another local says, “What will the youth do after the four years? They will learn to use guns and do militancy. This is our biggest concern.” Many coaching centres for army aspirants have also shut down.   

While the INDIA bloc, which has been targeting the Modi government over the scheme, has promised to junk it after coming to power, the BJP leaders, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, have vowed to make changes to it. So will the anger over the scheme have political implications?


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