Joining the Army is voluntary, there is no conscription: General V.K. Singh

Written by corres2

Amid continuing violence and protests over the Agnipath scheme, Union Minister and former Army Chief General (retired) V.K. Singh said joining the Army was voluntary and there was no conscription, while alleging that the Opposition, particularly the Congress, was trying to mislead the youngsters.

“Joining the Army is voluntary and not a compulsion. If any aspirant wants to join, he can join as per his will, we don’t conscript soldiers. But if you don’t like this recruitment scheme [Agnipath] then don’t come [to join]. Who is asking you to come? You are burning buses and trains. Who told you that you will be recruited into the armed forces. You will be selected only if you fulfil the eligibility criteria,” Gen. Singh told reporters on the sidelines of an event in Nagpur on Sunday.

Also read | Centre bans 35 WhatsApp groups for spreading fake news on Agnipath scheme

Gen. Singh said the Opposition, particularly the Congress, was trying to mislead the youngsters. The only work that the Opposition was left with was to criticise and stop any government scheme. “They want to create unrest in the country to defame the government,” he said.

The Union Minister slammed the comments by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on the Agnipath scheme. “The Congress is upset because Rahul Gandhi is being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate. Hence, the party finds fault with even the best of the best work of the government,” he said.

Upper age limit

On June 14, the government announced the Agnipath scheme under which soldiers, sailors and Airmen between the age bracket of 17.5 to 21 would be recruited for four years and only up to 25% of them would get to continue for regular service for another 15 years. Following protests and violence, the government extended the upper age limit of recruitment to 23 for the year 2022.

On the reasons behind the Agnipath scheme, Gen. Singh said the concept of short tenure was proposed by the Kargil review Committee.

“The primary idea was that a soldier can join the armed forces for a short period….which will solve two things,” he said referring to demands over the last few decades for compulsory military training. In the past, it was said that the training could be imparted through the NCC but the demand for military training was always there, he stated.

He said the Army was neither an employment agency nor a company or a shop and people join out of their interest to serve the nation.

Referring to the two-year age relaxation for this year, Gen. Singh said, “If a person had missed out on earlier recruitment opportunities he is still eligible to apply. This is a voluntary scheme and anyone who fits the criteria can apply.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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