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Army threatens to move Agnipath recruitment out of Punjab


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Jalandhar(Punja): A zonal recruitment officer of the Indian Army has written to the Punjab government saying that recruitment rallies in the state under the short-term Agnipath scheme may be suspended or transferred to other states, claiming that support was not forthcoming from the local civil administration.

Zonal recruitment officer, Jalandhar, Major General Sharad Bikram Singh wrote the letter on September 8, addressed to Punjab chief secretary V.K. Janjua and principal secretary, employment generation, skill development and training, Kumar Rahul.

Without the aforementioned “clear-cut commitments”, the zonal recruitment officer said he would take up the matter with Army headquarters to either “hold in abeyance” all the recruitment rallies under Agnipath in the state, or alternatively, conduct the rallies in neighbouring states.

Major General Singh, in the letter, also pointed out that there are several “requirements” that the local administration needs to provide including police assistance for law and order, security and crowd control; essential barricading to allow for smooth and controlled movement of candidates; medical support in the form of a medical officer, a team and ambulances.

As well as arrangements for basic amenities such as water, portable toilets, rain shelters, and food for the 3,000-4,000 candidates every day for the 14 days that a rally is held at a particular location.

The letter stated that if the local authorities do not provide all the facilities, they may take up the case with the Army Headquarters.

They may also “hold in abeyance all future recruitment rallies” or “alternatively conduct rallies in neighbouring states”.

A recruitment rally was underway in Gurdaspur on Wednesday which began on September 1 and will continue through September 14.

Previously in August, a rally was held in Ludhiana and the next one is scheduled to begin in Patiala from September 17.

About 27,000 candidates are expected to participate in the recruitment rallies from across Punjab. There are an estimated 3,500-4,000 slots up for grabs in the state.

The Agnipath scheme, which curtailed the service durations for most of the recruits, was implemented earlier this year after widespread protests against the new service regime.

The scheme was implemented to lower the age profile of the armed forces and curtail the ballooning recruitment bills.

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