Dehradun: NSUI workers held a demonstration at the busy clock tower roundabout here on Saturday in protest against the Centre"s Agnipath scheme for military recruitment.Shouting anti-government slogans, National Students" Union of India (NSUI) workers marched from their party office to the clock tower, where they burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to register their protest against the short-term recruitment scheme for youngsters in the armed forces.NSUI state president Mohan Bhandari termed the scheme a "four-year lollipop" and claimed that it will ruin the future of the country"s youngsters.City Congress chief Lalchand Sharma and party MLA from Khatima Bhuvan Chandra Kapri also joined the demonstration to express their solidarity with the protesting NSUI workers."There is great resentment among youngsters over the scheme, which is an attempt to play with their future," Kapri said. "What will they do after they retire from the armed forces in their early 20s?" he asked.State Congress chief Karan Mahara also demanded the scheme"s withdrawal, saying it will leave the youngsters in the lurch after four years.Congress MLAs had staged a walkout in the state Assembly on Friday in protest against the scheme.Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt accused the Congress of instigating the youngsters of the country, claiming that the opposition party is worried about the growing popularity of the Narendra Modi government."The scheme is the best model adopted by the Centre after studying the armed forces" recruitment methods in the US, China and Israel. The upper-age limit for the scheme has also been raised from 21 to 23 years and 45,000 youngsters will be recruited in the armed forces under the scheme every year. The Congress is only instigating the youngsters," Bhatt told reporters in Nainital.Those selected under the Agnipath scheme will be trained for six months and 25 per cent of them will be retained after the four-year period while the rest will be given preference in appointments in the central paramilitary forces, the Union minister said.Uttarakhand and many other states have also said they will give preference to them when it comes to recruiting candidates for the state police force or the disaster management department after they return from their four-year stint in the armed forces, Bhatt, who is an MP from Nainital, said.With several states witnessing violent protests against the scheme, Uttarakhand Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar has asked the SPs and SSPs of different districts to be on the alert.Peaceful protests are okay but nothing at the cost of peace will be allowed, the DGP has said.The SPs and SSPs of various districts are also counselling students in consultation with the coaching centres where they prepare for various competitive examinations.There have been protests against the Agnipath scheme in different parts of Uttarakhand but those have not turned violent yet.However, police resorted to lathicharge in Haldwani on Friday to disperse a group of protesting youngsters. —PTI 



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