WITH THE Army warning that its recruitment rallies in Punjab, under the short-term Agnipath scheme, may either be “held in abeyance” or shifted to neighbouring states due to “vacillating” support from the local civil administration, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Wednesday directed deputy commissioners to provide “complete support” and warned that “any laxity shall be viewed seriously”.
As reported by The Indian Express on Wednesday, in a letter dated September 8, 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, had pointed to “inescapable requirements” that must be fulfilled by the civil administration, including police assistance, medical support and arrangements for basic amenities.
The letter warned that unless there is a “clear cut commitment” to make these arrangements, “we would be taking up the case with Army Headquarters to hold in abeyance all future recruitment rallies and procedures in the state” or “alternatively conduct rallies in neighbouring states”.
Tweeting a copy of the report, Mann said: “All deputy commissioners were directed to provide complete support to Army authorities for recruitment of Agniveers in Punjab. Any laxity shall be viewed seriously. Every effort will be made to recruit maximum number of candidates into Army from the state.” The Chief Minister is currently in Germany on an official visit.
State Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, however, said the Aam Aadmi Party was opposed to the Agniveer scheme. Asked for his comments on The Indian Express report, Cheema said at a press conference: “This issue is not in my knowledge but I understand that nobody can impose restrictions on Punjab. Youth from Punjab were earlier getting recruited in the Army. We opposed the Agniveer scheme earlier also, and we are opposing it even today”.