- Declaring Congress's support, Sonia Gandhi said her party stands with the youths
- Gandhi said she empathises with youths, who are awaiting results and appointments
- Sonia Gandhi is being treated at a hospital in Delhi for a lower respiratory tract infection
Agnipath protest: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi asked citizens to remain calm and "maintain peace" as protests rage on over the government's newly introduced military-recruitment scheme.
In a statement, Sonia Gandhi said: "I'm sad that govt ignored your voice & announced a new scheme that is completely directionless... I appeal to all of you to protest peacefully in a non-violent manner. Indian National Congress is with you."
"It is unfortunate that the government has announced a new armed forces' recruitment policy, which is completely directionless and it has done so while ignoring your voices," she said in a statement in Hindi, addressed to the youths. Declaring her party's support for them, the Congress president said along with the youths, several ex-soldiers and defence experts have questioned the scheme.
Gandhi, who is being treated at a hospital in Delhi for a lower respiratory tract infection and post-Covid symptoms, said she can understand the pain of the youths over the "three-year delay" in recruitment despite lakhs of vacancies in the Army.
Gandhi said she also empathises with the youths who are awaiting results and appointments after taking the test for induction in the Air Force. "The Congress stands with you with full force and promises to struggle for your interests and for the withdrawal of this scheme."
PM Modi will have to become 'maafiveer', take back Agnipath scheme: Rahul Gandhi on violent protests
The government, however, in a quick-fix mode, said on Saturday that 10 per cent of all vacancies in the Ministry of Defence will be reserved for the armed forces recruits, who have completed four years of service under the 'Agnipath' scheme. The new offer from the Central government comes within hours of the Home Ministry's announcement to reserve 10% vacancies for recruitment in CAPFs and Assam Rifles, for Agniveers.
The 10% reservation will be implemented in the Indian Coast Guard and defence civilian posts, and all the 16 Defence Public Sector Undertakings. This reservation would be in addition to the existing reservation for ex-servicemen.