More protests were witnessed in parts of Haryana on Monday against Agnipath as armed forces aspirants blocked roads and demanded that the scheme be rolled back. In Fatehabad, a group of youth blocked the Lal Batti Chowk, while several others staged a protest on roads in Rohtak district.
Amid continuing protests in Haryana and Punjab against the scheme, which seeks to recruit jawans into the army, the navy and the air force for a four-year-period, security has been stepped up at key installations in the two states, officials said.
There was a heavy deployment of police at railway stations, including those in Ambala, Rewari and Sonipat in Haryana and Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar in Punjab to prevent any untoward incident, they said.
In a communication to all police commissioners and senior superintendents of police in the state on Sunday, Punjab's Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) said offices and installations of the central government departments needed stronger security while protection around other vital installations needed to be enhanced.
Noting that the protests and calls for Bharat Bandh are being mobilised through social media, the ADGP said there is a need to activate dedicated social media cells and monitor their activities, the communication said.
The Centre had last Tuesday unveiled the Agnipath scheme under which youths between 17-and-a-half and 21 years would be inducted in the three services for a four-year tenure. Twenty-five per cent of the recruits will be retained for regular service.
The government projected this scheme as a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process to enhance the youthful profile of the services. On Thursday, it relaxed the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment this year as protests against the scheme intensified.
The announcement of the new scheme came in the backdrop of recruitment into the military remaining being stalled for over two years due to Covid-19. On Saturday, the home ministry announced that 10 per cent of vacancies in the Central Armed Police Forces and the Assam Rifles would be reserved for 'Agniveers' and also gave a three-year relaxation in the upper age limit.
Further, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved a proposal to reserve 10 per cent of vacancies in the defence ministry for 'Agniveers' who meet the eligibility criteria.