Agnipath leaves Tamil Nadu’s ‘Army Village’ deeply disappointed

For most youngsters in Ranuva Pettai, a career in the Armed Forces is the only aspiration; they train hard from a young age to keep themselves physically fit

Inspired by war veterans, the youngsters of Kammavanpettai want to join the Army to continue the legacy of the village. Pic: iStock

A Tamil Nadu village which has sent thousands of men to serve in the Army for more than 75 years, is disappointed with the Centre’s new recruitment scheme, Agnipath.

Men from Kammavanpettai (popularly known as Ranuva Pettai – “Army Village”) and neighbouring villages in Vellore district have been defending the country and have also laid down their lives in the line of duty. According to media reports, the region has produced more jawans than kisans over the decades.

Also read: Agnipath: Air Force unveils details on eligibility, age limit, qualifications

Kammavanpettai alone has around 1,500 war widows, war veterans, and ex-servicemen.

Amid the ongoing protests in several states over the four-year Agnipath scheme for youths of India, Kammavanpettai too has voiced its concerns over the short-service recruitment scheme, according to a report in Times of India.

Inspired by war veterans and soldiers like Narayanan, martyred during the Kargil War, the youngsters want to join the army to continue the legacy of the village. They expressed disappointment over the Agnipath scheme, saying it sowed seeds of uncertainty over their aspirations and future, the TOI report said.

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Rigorous practice

“We are spending six hours a day (5.30 am to 8.30 am and 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm) doing physical training, while preparing for written tests during the day. This is our routine for the last two years. But the new scheme is demoralising,” Vignesh, 20, one of the aspirants in Red Rose Army Warrior’s defence training academy in the village, was quoted as saying in the report.

“The short-service scheme is threatening our dreams. What is the guarantee of getting a decent job if we are sent back after four years?” another youth asked.

Ex-servicemen in the village felt the government should not “compromise the nation’s security and dreams of aspirants” by introducing such a short service programme in the defence force.

Also read: Agnipath decoded: How to join, salary, benefits — and criticism

“In our village, at least 200 boys cleared the physical and medical tests in the recruitment rally held in Tiruvannamalai in 2020. They are waiting for the written test. They were dejected after hearing about the scheme,” J Murugan, who runs a training academy named after his brother J Tamilselvan, martyred in J&K three years ago, told the newspaper.

Retired subedar major K Elumalai and retired havildar L Elumalai, who served nearly six years in Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu & Kashmir in his 17 years of service in the Madras Engineer Group, said the scheme posed several unanswered questions on the future of the recruits.

Long-term ambition

Media reports indicate that for most youngsters in Ranuva Pettai, a career in the Armed Forces is the only aspiration. They train hard from a young age to keep themselves physically fit. Nearly 90 per cent of the families have at least one member in the Army, said another TOI report.

Last week, as protests against Agnipath raged across the countries, hundreds of youngsters gathered in front of the Vellore collectorate for a demonstration. They raised slogans and demanded that the Centre retract the scheme.

Tamil Nadu has seen fewer protests against the recruitment scheme as compared to states such as Bihar or Telangana.

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