The Chief Minister of the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, announced Tuesday the withdrawal of cases filed against students during 2022 anti-Agnipath protests. In his Independence Day speech, the Chief Minister declared that the cases filed against students protesting against the Indian government’s Agnipath scheme for military recruitment will be withdrawn shortly, as the existing cases can hamper their future prospects.
Protests broke out across several Indian states—including Uttarakhand—in June 2022 after India’s federal government announced its Agnipath scheme, which was later implemented in September 2022 without any public consultation or debate. The scheme permitted for the recruitment of people aged between 17.5 through 23 years of age into India’s military service for four-year periods under the rank of “Agniveer.” Although the scheme introduced a new mechanism to keep 25 percent of the recruited soldiers for another round of screening, most are dismissed from duty after four years.
Protesters objected to the scheme because they sought to join India’s armed forces under long-term employment schemes, as opposed to the Agnipath’s four-year term. They also objected to the scheme’s lump sum payment of Rs 1,100,500 upon departure, preferring instead to qualify for a government pension.
The Agnipath scheme still remains in place, despite ongoing criticism from its opponents. Earlier this year, the Delhi High Court rejected a batch of petitions filed against the Agnipath scheme, finding that the scheme is in the national interest and better equips the armed forces.