By Ashish Srivastava

New Delhi, June 19 (UNI) The protest against the Centre’s Agnipath project is intensifying day by day. Student organisations, young people and political parties are opposed to the new regime, which replaces the traditional recruitment process and limits the prospect of many candidates for a career in defense to four years.

A mega protest was called on Monday by Delhi Cabinet Minister Gopal Rai against the plan, which senior party politician Aam Aadmi (AAP) says is just another push for ‘contractualization’ by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre.

Called under the banner of “Samyukta Rozgaar Andolan Samiti”, Rai called on student and professional organizations to join the protest and turn it into a mass movement against the “contracting of the defense forces”.

Speaking to UNI, Rai said: “Agnipath in its current form is a disaster for the youth of this country. To oppose it we must all come together and launch a mass public movement against the scheme.”

The Agnipath program, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of young people in the age group of 17 and a half to 21 years for only four years with a provision to retain 25% of them for an additional 15 years.

The government later extended the upper age limit to 23 for recruitment in 2022, following nationwide protest against the scheme, demanding its cancellation.

Rai said extending the age a few days after the program was introduced proved it was not a well-thought-out policy.

“What was wrong with the old recruiting method that gave us soldiers, who sacrificed their lives to defend the nation’s borders and continue to do so? What was wrong with this policy, which has given us heroes who have brought victory to India in many wars?” He asked.

The Delhi minister has said that the introduction of contract jobs in the defense services will have far-reaching consequences.

“The age group eligible for the program is when young people make their careers. Now, after four years, most of them will have to start from scratch. They will lose the precious years that they could have invested in something which would have benefited them for life.

Moreover, the government should not gamble with national security. Serving in the Defense Forces is not just about employment, but also about commitment, which encourages these young guns to always be ready to sacrifice their lives for the nation. Experiencing this emotion can be dangerous,” he added.

The Minister for Environment, Forestry and Wildlife, Development and General Administration of the Delhi Government said that the Union Government had failed miserably to address the burgeoning problem of unemployment, which had exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He called Agnipath just another “lollipop” to distract from the core problem of unemployment, which senior leaders say can only be solved by formulating a national policy.

“Unemployment has risen massively in the country. Successive governments have failed to address it since India gained independence. The situation became more frightening during the pandemic when thousands of people lost their livelihoods. Rising inflation has also made an additional dent,” Rai said. .

“The issue of unemployment will not be solved if we do not adopt a political approach. We must create jobs in the unorganized sectors and agriculture. A national employment policy is the need of the hour”, he added.

However, the Center has published a ten-point charter to clear up confusion among people regarding the Agnipath program.

Reacting to this, Rai said that the schemes of the Modi government could never be understood by those people who the government believes will be the beneficiaries.

“The outcome of the previous decisions of the Modi government is before the country. Whether it is demonetization, agricultural laws or Agnipath, the policy they formulate is never understood by the people. The agricultural laws in are the biggest example. It is simply the arrogance of the government to impose its whims and fancies on the public,” he said in a conversation with UNI.

However, the Delhi minister reiterated that the AAP will oppose Agnipath with all their might.

“We will oppose this scheme on the streets and, if necessary, we will also fight it in parliament,” he said.