Controversy erupts over Agneepath recruitment on the basis of ‘caste and religion’; BJP targets opposition

Tribune News Service

Vibha Sharma

New Delhi, July 19

A political controversy erupted on Tuesday over allegations of some opposition leaders doing the Agneepath recruitment on the basis of caste and religion.

The BJP reprimanded him saying that the army does not discriminate on the basis of caste or religion.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the practice has been going on for decades and is related to administrative and operational issues.

Accusing the opposition of provoking the youth and trying to bring them on the streets, he said, “If a soldier is martyred, he should know how his last rites are performed.”

Patra said the Army had clarified in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court in 2013 that it did not recruit on the basis of caste, region and religion. “However, it justifies grouping of people coming from one area in a regiment for administrative convenience and operational requirements,” he said.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh also called it a rumor and said that no change has been made in the recruitment system. “The existing system is going on since the pre-independence era. No changes have been made.”

Officials said that candidates need to submit caste certificate and if required, religion certificate was always there. In addition, recruitment to non-commissioned ranks in the army also takes place for specific caste-based regiments based on caste and religion. “For example, the Sikh regiment is pure Sikh, Jat is pure Jat; similarly for Gorkha, Rajput, Sikh Lee, Maratha Lee and Mahar regiments,” he said.

Sikh Lee, Maratha Lee and Mahar regiments are SC/ST regiments.

Claiming that caste is being asked in army recruitment for the first time in the history of India, AAP leader Sanjay Singh tweeted, “Do you want to make Agniveer or Jaativeer?

The ugly face of Modi government has come in front of the country.

Does Modi ji not consider dalits, backwards, tribals eligible for recruitment in the army? For the first time in the history of India, caste is being asked in army recruitment. Modi ji, do you want to become Agniveer or Jaativeer? Sanjay Singh said.

Splitting BJP MP Varun Gandhi also wondered whether patriotism would be decided “on the basis of caste”.