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Shun violence; govt ready to hold talks: Anurag Thakur to Agnipath protesters

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New Delhi, Jun 18: Union minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday appealed to the youths protesting against the Agnipath scheme to shun violence and come forward for talks, asserting that the government is ready to look into their grievances with an "open mind" and make changes "if required".

Anurag Thakur

The Information and Broadcasting Minister said the Agnipath scheme is a "historic decision" taken by the Narendra Modi government towards making the country "more secured" in future and also provide "opportunities" to the country's youth.

Thakur said the country's youth, who want to join Army, would never take the path of the violence. But some political parties, which keep looking of every opportunity under an agenda to block any change taking place, have "provoked" the youth, he alleged, without naming any party.

"I would like to appeal to the country's youth that path of violence would not take you anywhere. In a democracy, you have right to protest but not by setting government property on fire. Violence has no place in a democracy," he said replying to questions at a conclave organised by the TV9 media group.

He also urged the political parties not to "provoke" the youth, and asked them to express their views on the issue in their respective "platforms or media".

"If you have any better suggestion, you can place your views at your platform, media in a democracy or tell us. Government is always ready to consider with an open mind," he said.

The minister suggested the protesting youths can come for talks with the central government raising their grievance through the governors and chief ministers of their states or through their elected representatives and the Union ministers.

"Whatever your views are, you can express and share on social media. You (can) express your views on what are the changes that you want. But, don't indulge in violence," he said in his appeal to the those protesting the Agnipath scheme.

Thakur said the government's approach on the issue is that it is ready to think with an open mind and make amendments in the scheme, if required, in the interest of the youth and the country. "Then, talks are very good medium... Some or other solution will come out, not by violence but through talks. We have brought this scheme in the interest of the country's youth," he said.

Defending the Agnipath scheme, he said anyone willing to be join the force under the new scheme will have in his bank account "at least Rs 25 lakh of his salary besides Rs 11 lakh to be given on completion of four years of service".

"If he is class 10 passed, he will get class 12 passed certificate. Those joining with 12 certificate will be able to pursue his graduation with the provisions that have been made," he said. Those joining the armed forces under the scheme can start a new life with the "varying skills" they will acquire during four years of their service in the armed forces.

While the 25 per cent of all those to be recruited under the scheme will continue to serve the army, remaining 75 per cent of the recruits will have "many opportunities" after completion of the four years of their service.

"The country's corporate world have said they are ready to hire them on priority. This is a very big step that corporate world has taken. Besides, various departments of the central government have also talked about giving them priority in hirings," he said.

Thakur said his Sports and Youth Affairs Ministry is also "seriously" considering to come up with a short-term course for such youth to enable them get job of trainers in sports sector or physical teachers in schools and colleges. "When they are so fit that they can join the army, many of them would be associate with sports as well. We can offer them some 5-6 month course that can make them eligible for physical training teachers or trainers in sports... we are thinking about it very seriously," he said.

with PTI inputs

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