Kathua/Jammu, Jun 18: Police on Saturday foiled an attempt by Army aspirants to block Jammu-Pathankot highway in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, where youth Congress activists also staged a protest in the winter capital demanding immediate rollback of the new Agnipath' scheme.
A group of youth, who have already cleared physical and medical tests and were waiting for their written examination to join the Army over the past couple of years, staged a demonstration against the new recruitment policy at Chadwal in Kathua district, officials said.
They said the protesters, chanting slogans against the scheme and the BJP, tried to block the Jammu-Pathankot highway but their attempt was thwarted by police who used mild lathicharge to chase away the protesters, some of whom indulged in stone-pelting in retaliation.
Additional forces have been rushed to the scene and the situation in the area is well under control, the officials said, adding none was hurt in the "minor" stone-pelting incident.
Scores of Congress activists led by youth president Uday Bhanu Chib staged a protest outside Press Club in Jammu to press for rollback of the Agnipath scheme.
The scheme is meant for the youth of the country but they are not satisfied and are on the roads against the government which unfortunately is not listening...the youth are genuine in their concerns which needs to be addressed by rolling back the scheme, Chib told reporters.
He said Congress supports the protesting youth as the new recruits join the armed forces to serve the nation.
The government is playing with the sentiments and aspirations of the public. The recruitment in the armed forces on contractual basis is not acceptable, he said, adding "any attempt to turn the Army into a private limited company will not be tolerated".
Unveiling the scheme on Tuesday, the government said youths between the ages of 17-and-a-half and 21 years would be inducted for a four-year tenure while 25 per cent of the recruits will be retained for regular service.
The upper age limit was raised to 23 years on Thursday as the protests against the new model for enrolment of soldiers into the Army, Navy and Air Force spread.
The new scheme for the recruitment of soldiers in the three services was projected by the government as a major overhaul of the decades-old selection process to enhance the youthful profile of the three services.