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Agnipath: Amid protest govt announces one-time waiver, relaxes upper age to 23 years for this year

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New Delhi, Jun 16: Amid widespread protests against the new model for enrolment of soldiers into the three services, Defence Ministry on Thursday said the government granted a one-time waiver in the upper age limit for 'Agnipath' scheme by extending it to 23 years from 21 years.

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Agnipath: Govt announces one-time waiver, relaxes upper age to 23 years

The decision has been taken as no recruitment had taken place in the last two years, the ministry said.

Unveiling the scheme on Tuesday, the government had said the entry age for all new recruits will have to be between 17 and a half and 21 years. "Cognizant of the fact that it has not been possible to undertake the recruitment during the last two years, the government has decided that a one-time waiver shall be granted for the proposed recruitment cycle for 2022," a defence ministry spokesperson said.

He said the upper-age limit for the recruitment process under the Agnipath scheme for 2022 has been increased to 23 years.

Earlier, the government said that under the scheme, youths between 17-and-a-half and 21 years of age will be inducted into the three services. After completion of the four-year tenure, the scheme provides for retaining 25 per cent of the recruits for regular service.

The recruits would also get a corpus fund upon being relieved from the service but would not be entitled to post-retirement benefits such as pension like the regular soldiers.

However, protests were reported from several states across the country against the Agnipath scheme. Opposition and some army veterans too expressed their displeasure over the new scheme and demanded the scrapping of 'Agnipath.

Trains were set afire, window panes of buses smashed and passersby, including a ruling BJP MLA, pelted with stones in Bihar by Army job aspirants whose protest against the short-term recruitment scheme continued for the second consecutive day. Protests against the scheme also took place in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Hundreds of young people took to the streets in Haryana's Gurugram, Rewari and Palwal while scores of youngsters in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr and Ballia districts staged protests against it.

The Ministry of Education had announced on Thursday that it will launch a special three-year skill-based bachelor degree programme for such defence personnel which will recognise the skill training received by them during their tenure in the defence establishments. The degree programme offered by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will be recognised both in India and abroad for employment and education. The Army, Navy and the Air Force will sign a memorandum of understanding with IGNOU for the implementation of the scheme, ministry officials said. PTI

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