AICC national spokesperson Shama Mohamed on Thursday launched a scathing critique against the Modi government’s Agnipath Scheme, decrying it as a betrayal of the aspirations of 1.5 lakh Indian youth seeking to serve in the Armed Forces.
Addressing the media at the Congress Bhawan in Imphal, Shama asserted that the scheme has shattered the dreams of countless young men and women who had successfully navigated the rigorous mental and physical tests of regular Armed Forces recruitment.
These are not the only youth whose dreams have been shattered by the Modi government, she said, highlighting the unemployment crisis in the country.
“Unemployment at a 45-year high, quadrupling from 1 crore to 4 crore from 2012 to 2022; graduates struggle, engineers resort to manual labor, and PhDs seek menial jobs; MSME destruction by policies like GST and demonetisation worsened by unplanned lockdowns and two unemployed persons commit suicide hourly,” said Shama.
Drawing attention to the dire situation she highlighted the ‘Jay Jawan’ campaign spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi, aimed at securing justice for the 1.5 lakh aspirants who were unjustly denied recruitment following the introduction of the Agnipath Scheme.
The campaign, under the banner of ‘Yuiva Nyay’, seeks to rectify the injustice meted out to these aspiring servicemen and women, she said.
The spokesperson maintained that the ‘Jay Jawan’ campaign, with its twin demands of reinstating the jobs snatched away by the Agnipath Scheme and reverting to the previous recruitment system for the Armed Forces, is set to unfold in three phases across the nation from January 31 to March 20.
The Phase 1: Sampark (Mass Contact), which is scheduled from February 1 to 28, she explained, aims to reach out to 30 lakh families, distributing ‘Nyaya Patra’ along with forms and leaflets to solicit support. The involvement of Indian National Congress workers will ensure widespread awareness and participation in the movement, she added.
The Phase 2: Satyagraha, which is scheduled from March 5 to10, she explained, will intensify with Dharnas organised in all blocks and cities, rallying youths and their families to join the cause.
These protests, to be held at prominent public squares like Shaheed Chowk or Gandhi Chowk, will serve as a poignant reminder of the struggle for justice, she added.
The Phase 3: Nyay Yatra (Padayatra), which will be the final leg of the campaign, slated from March 17 to 20, will witness ‘Nyaya Yatra’ traversing 50 kilometers in every district, symbolising the resilience and determination of the movement’s participants, maintained Shama.
She said, under the guidance of the Coordinators Committee and Nyay Yoddhas, this Padayatra will amplify the voices of the aggrieved youth.
Shedding light on the testimonials of former Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (retd), who denounced the Agnipath Scheme’s unilateral imposition on the Armed Forces, she said the former general’s insights highlighted the scheme’s detrimental impact on recruitment and morale within the military ranks.
She went on to delineate the myriad ways in which the Agnipath Scheme has disadvantaged its beneficiaries, including inadequate remuneration, lack of post-service benefits, and limited career prospects.
The resultant disillusionment among youth, coupled with alarming unemployment statistics, paints a stark picture of the nation’s socio-economic landscape under the Modi government’s tenure, she added.
“The youth of India must hold the Modi government accountable for the challenges they face. Let’s not turn our demographic dividend into a disaster. We must ensure permanent jobs for patriotic youths in our Forces as our national security is paramount,” she said.