With the Army warning that recruitment rallies in Punjab under the short-term Agnipath scheme may be postponed or shifted to neighboring states due to shaky support from the local civil administration, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann directed deputy commissioners on Wednesday to provide full support and warned that any laxity would be taken seriously.

According to reports on Wednesday, in a letter dated September 8 and addressed to V K Janjua, Punjab Chief Secretary, and Kumar Rahul, Principal Secretary, Employment Generation, Skill Development and Training, the Army’s zonal recruitment officer in Jalandhar, Major General Sharad Bikram Singh, outlined unavoidable requirements that must be met by the civil administration, such as police assistance, medical support, and basic amenities arrangements.

The letter cautioned that until there is a clear commitment to making these arrangements, we would take up the subject with Army Headquarters to suspend all future recruitment rallies and procedures in the state or conduct rallies in neighboring states.

Mann tweeted, “All deputy commissioners were directed to provide the complete support to Army authorities for recruitment of Agniveers in Punjab. Any laxity shall be viewed very seriously. Every effort will be made to recruit the maximum number of candidates into the Army from the state.” The Chief Minister is now on an official visit to Germany.

The Aam Aadmi Party, according to State Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, is opposed to the Agniveer plan. Cheema stated, “This issue is not in my knowledge, but I understand that nobody can impose restrictions on Punjab. Youth from Punjab were earlier getting recruited into Army. We opposed Agniveer scheme earlier also, and we are opposing it even today”.

The Government of India introduced the Agnipath Scheme on June 14, 2022, for the recruitment of personnel below the rank of commissioned officers into the three armed military services. All applicants will be hired for a four-year contract. Personnel recruited via this method will be referred to as Agniveers, a new military rank. The execution of the system has been criticized for lack of consultation and public debate.

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