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Row over caste column in Agniveers recruitment; Oppn slams govt, Rajnath allays fears

Opposition leaders including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) accused the Modi government of invoking caste-based divide in the Armed Forces.

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New Delhi: Agnipath scheme, an ambitious move to hire young recruits in the Armed Forces, again got mired in controversy today with the Opposition raising hue & cry over caste column in the application form.

Opposition leaders including Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) accused the Modi government of invoking caste-based divide in the Armed Forces.

AAP said that BJP was trying to create ‘Jaativeers’ using Agniveers, claiming that caste & religion certificates are being asked for Agniveer recruitment while RJD claimed that this was a RSS sponsored scheme that will be used to divide Agniveers on caste.

Tejashwi Yadav also shared a screenshot of the notification which wants the Agniveer aspirants to fill details of their caste/religion alongwith a certificate.

Defence Minister denies any deviation from norms

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh when questioned by newsmen outside the Parliament dismissed it as mere rumour.

“There has been no change, existing pre-independence era model is being continued,” he said.

Earlier, the BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also hit out at the Opposition for stoking row for the sake of it.

“In 2013, the Indian Army had submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court that there is no role of caste as far as the selection process is concerned, however, there is a column for caste that is required to be filled as part of administrative or operative requirement,” Sambit Patra said.

Indian Army’s clarification

The Indian Army also clarified on the issue and said there has been no change in the Army recruitment policy for Agniveers.

“The requirement for aspirants to submit caste certificates and if required, religion certificates have always been there,” Indian Army officials said.

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