'Agnipath' Violence: Sonia Gandhi's Appeal To Protesters From Hospital

The Congress, however, claims that the scheme is "controversial, carries multiple risks, subverts the long-standing traditions", and may turn out to be a case of "penny wise and security foolish".

'Agnipath' Violence: Sonia Gandhi's Appeal To Protesters From Hospital

The new military recruitment scheme is "directionless", Sonia Gandhi said. (File photo)

New Delhi:

With the protests against the new recruitment scheme, Agnipath, now spreading to eight states, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today assured military job aspirants that her party "will strongly stand" with them as they try to put pressure on the government to rollback the contentious scheme.

The new military recruitment scheme is "directionless", and was announced without keeping the interests of the army job aspirants in mind, the Congress chief said in a statement in Hindi.

"I am disappointed that the government ignored your voices and announced the "new military recruitment scheme", which is directionless. Many ex-servicemen have also raised questions about the new scheme," the statement, which was shared by party leader Jairam Ramesh on Twitter, said.

"The Indian National Congress strongly stand with our promise to protect your interests against the scheme. As a true patriot, we will raise our voice against the scheme without violence, patience and peace," she said.

One person has died in police firing in the protests that have now spread to eight states. 

Nearly 600 protesters have been arrested - 325 people in Uttar Pradesh and 250 in Uttar Pradesh - in the protests, which has seen angry youth, carrying bamboo sticks and stones, storming railway premises across cities and laying siege to highways.

Earlier, Mrs Gandhi's son and senior party leader Rahul Gandhi had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to accept the demand of the youth and rollback the defence recruitment scheme just like the farm laws.

In a tweet in Hindi, Mr Gandhi said, "I had said earlier also that the prime minister will have to withdraw the black farm laws." "In the same manner, he will have to accept the demand of the youth of the country by becoming 'maafiveer' and take back the 'Agnipath' scheme," he said.

The government unveiled Agnipath on Tuesday -- calling it a "transformative" scheme-- for the recruitment of soldiers in the Army, Navy and the Air Force. The Congress, however, claims that the scheme is "controversial, carries multiple risks, subverts the long-standing traditions", and may turn out to be a case of "penny wise and security foolish".

The new scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the three services was projected by the government as a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process to enhance the youthful profile of the three services.

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