In Punjab, farmers protest against Agnipath scheme: ‘Our sons will be jobless, kisans & jawans are linked’

The farm unions of Punjab on Friday, in response to a call given by the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), held protests at 90 places of the state against the Agnipath scheme of the Union Government.

The farmer unions later in the day, along with members of Naujawan Bharat Sabha, also submitted memorandums addressed to the President of India via the Sub-Divisional Magistrates(SDMs) and Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of their areas.

The memorandum states that only 46,000 will be appointed in the first year of Agnipath scheme and a total of 2 lakh Agniveers will be appointed in the first four years, as against 87,000 recruitments in the year 2020. All recruitment will be on “All India All Class” basis in place of Regiment based Region Community Quota prevalent till now.“It is surprising that the government did not follow any minimum procedure before announcing such far-reaching changes. No pilot exercise of the new recruitment process was done anywhere. There was no discussion on these proposals before either Houses of Parliament or the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense Affairs. No consultation was ever held with the stakeholders (aspirants of recruitment, serving jawans and officers, public representatives of the areas of intensive recruitment and general public) who were affected by this scheme,” the memorandum further reads. As per details, BKU-Ugrahan — the largest farmer union of Punjab — organised protests at 27 places in 13 districts , while the remaining 22 unions of Punjab organised protests at nearly 60 places the remaining districts.

Interestingly in Sangrur, where only 45.3% people turned out to vote on Thursday, a huge crowd of locals came out to join Friday’s protests, with dharnas being staged at more than 15 places of the Parliamentary constituency .

Jagmohan Singh Patiala, general secretary of BKU-Dakaunda added, “If you visit villages, normally the landless , small or marginal farmer families prepare for recruitment rallies in the Army. They serve the nation and even feed the nation. But a four years job will affect the rural sector. Our sons will be jobless.”

BKU-Ugrahan organised a mega protest rally in Sangrur, which was addressed by the union’s state president, Joginder Singh Ugrahan. In addition to this, 22 other farm unions organised protests in all nine assembly constituencies which fall in Sangrur Parliamentary constituency.

Dr Darshan Pal, senior SKM member said,”We demand withdrawal of the Agnipath scheme as Kisan and Jawan are interlinked. This scheme is directly going to affect farmers as the majority of sons of farmers work as jawans. Hence, people rightly say Jai jawan, jai kisan. First the three farm laws and now Agnipath, why are common farmers being targeted again and again?”

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