Chandigarh, June 30
Amid opposition by the BJP MLAs, the Punjab Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution recommending to the state government that it urge the Centre to immediately roll back the Agnipath scheme.
Punjab is the only state to have passed a resolution against the scheme in its state assembly.
While moving the resolution against the scheme, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said it is a matter of national security, youth and patriotism.
The CM said it is impractical that those undergoing training would study at the same time. He asked the BJP “not to mislead” the people. He wanted to know about the status of an Agniveer who dies while fighting on the front or on duty.
The CM taunted the BJP leaders saying if they thought the scheme was good they should send their wards as Agniveers and then depute them as security guards outside their offices.
Opposing the resolution, BJP MLA Ashwani Sharma said it is nothing but doing politics on the issue of the security of the country. The scheme was wrongly interpreted; it was rather aimed at instilling discipline, skilling and patriotism in the youth, he said, adding that there is need to understand the scheme.
Speaking in favour of the resolution, minister Harjot Bains said the scheme is to mislead the countrymen in the name of employment. Those who had been preparing for entry into the armed forces for the past two years should be compensated, he added.
SAD’s Manpreet Ayali also supported the resolution.
Congress Legislature Party leader Partap Singh Bajwa, while supporting the resolution, said the Agnipath scheme is fraught with danger as we are surrounded with hostile neighbours, China and Pakistan. He said a majority of the retired army officers are opposing the scheme.
The resolution reads, “The unilateral announcement of the Agnipath scheme by the Centre has witnessed widespread reactions in all states, including Punjab. The Punjab Vidhan Sabha strongly feels that the scheme where the youth will be employed only for a period of four years and only upto 25% will be retained, is in the best interests neither of national security nor of the youth. The policy is likely to create dissatisfaction among the youth who wish to serve the armed forces for life.
“It must be highlighted that more than one lakh soldiers from Punjab serve in the armed forces and many of them give the supreme sacrifice of their life on the borders of the country every year. The youth of Punjab consider serving in the armed forces as a matter of pride and honour and are renowned for their valour. The scheme has crushed the dreams of many youths of Punjab who have been aspiring to join the armed forces as regular soldiers. The scheme also has the propensity to weaken the long-standing esprit de corps of the armed forces. Through this resolution, this House recommends to the state government to take up the matter with the Centre so that the Agnipath scheme is rolled back immediately.”
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