General VP Malik, the Army chief who led India to victory during the Kargil War, expressed support for the Agnipath scheme today and said the Army is not interested in recruiting hooligans responsible for the violence taking place during the protests against the short-term recruitment plan.
Violence was reported from five states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and national capital Delhi — through the day as protest by army aspirants escalated. Trains were set afire, rail and road traffic disrupted, window panes of buses smashed, and passersby, including a ruling BJP MLA, pelted with stones by angry youth demanding the withdrawal of the new short-term recruitment scheme.
“We have to understand that the armed forces are a volunteer force. It is not a welfare organisation and it has to have the best people who can fight for the country, who can defend the country,” General Malik told NDTV in an exclusive interview today. “Those people who indulged in goondaism, burning trains and buses, those are not the people we would like to have in the armed forces,” he added.
He, however, admitted that there were a number of candidates who could not “complete the test when we suspended recruitment”.
“Some of those people will now be overage. They will not be eligible for the Agnipath scheme. So their anxiety and frustration I can understand,” he said.
Choice of the Prime Minister for back-channel talks during the protests over “One Rank One Pension” Scheme seven years ago, General Malik indicated that the army aspirants should not have anxiety over jobs as the government has assured lateral entry into the police and paramilitary.
“A larger number will get inducted into the private sector,” although a job cannot be guaranteed right now, he added.
General Malik said in his opinion, the scheme has many plus points. “The concerns will be looked into as the scheme gets implemented”.
Asked if it would be a problem that people trained to handle very high-tech systems will be out in four years, General Malik said the emphasis is on recruiting people who are “better educated and tech savvy”.
With inputs from NDTV