New Delhi | Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday launched the 'Jay Jawan' campaign to provide "justice" to 1.5 lakh youth in the country who were selected for defence services but "not allowed" to join after the launch of the Agnipath scheme.
Gandhi launched the campaign on the eighteenth day of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Bihar. He promised these youth that he would raise the issue of "injustice" with them at every forum.
Due to the implementation of the Agnipath Scheme, around 1.5 lakh candidates selected for the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy between 2019 and 2022 were allegedly denied joining.
"Our Jay Jawan campaign is dedicated to those youth who have faced this injustice," Gandhi said, adding that "it is the fight for 'Nyay' (justice) against this 'Anyay' (injustice)".
There are three phases of 'Jay Jawan' campaign -- mass contact (February 1-28), satyagraha (March 5-10) and padyatra (March 17-20).
Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, party media and publicity department head Pawan Khera, chairman of the ex-servicemen cell Col Rohit Chaudhry (retd), Indian Youth Congress president Srinivas BV and NSUI president Varun Chaudhary said the scheme was not only against the country's interests, but also playing with the aspirations of lakhs of youth in the country.
Khera asked why the defence experts' opinion was not taken before launching of this scheme. He said the country cannot afford an army on rent or contractual soldiers.
Pointing out that for the Agniveers, there is neither a job guarantee, nor any guarantee in case they get martyrdom unlike the regular soldiers, Khera disclosed that 60 lakh youth had taken various tests for selection of whom 1.5 lakh had been selected. He claimed that the government had charged Rs 100 crore as examination fee for these selections.
Chaudhary warned that the Agnipath scheme is like playing with fire and putting the country’s security at stake.
He said after the introduction of the scheme the defence forces' strength had come down by three lakh and claimed that in another 10 years the total strength will be reduced to just 10 lakh.
Chaudhary equated Agnipath scheme with private armies. He alleged that the prime minister might handover this job to his capitalist friends who are already in the security services.
Giving an example of the ‘Wagner Army’ of Russia, he said the private armies don’t win any wars. Chaudhary said Russia has not been able to defeat Ukraine which, he claimed, has a regular army while Russia is fighting through a "private army".
Later in a post in Hindi on X, Gandhi said that leaving 1.5 lakh youth already selected in the armed forces helpless in the name of a "temporary" recruitment scheme Agnipath is a "grave injustice" to them.
“Today in Katihar, there was a discussion with some enthusiastic youth who had done penance for years to join the army,” he said.
The Agnipath scheme is a "betrayal" not only of the patriotic youth but also of the sacred sentiments of the country attached to the Indian military, Gandhi said.
“We have started the Voice of Justice - JAY JAWAN campaign against the injustice being done to these youth. You too can become a part of this ongoing campaign for justice for these patriotic youth by visiting jayjawan.in or by giving a missed call on 9999812024,” he said.