National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on Tuesday termed those protesting against the Centre’s newly launched Agnipath recruitment scheme for defence forces as “conflict entrepreneurs” with vested interests.
In an exclusive interview with news agency ANI, Doval said while there were people who were truly concerned and “their fear of unknown” is being gradually addressed, there is another group which does “not care for the country or security of the nation” and resorts to violence and damage to public property.
“I will say there are two kinds of opposition. There is one group of people who are truly concerned, who have served the country. They only have the fear of the unknown. It is anxiety before any big change. People are now understanding gradually that it has been long-term due. They are now finding it a good move,” he said.
Doval added: “But, there is another group. They do not care for the country or the security of the nation. They are conflict entrepreneurs. They want a conflict in society. These are the people who will go for stone-throwing, demonstrations, burning trains. They are with a vested interest. Whenever they have an opportunity they think they can mislead the people.”
The NSA’s comments come amid massive protests against the scheme which provides for recruitment into the armed services of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-a-half-years to 21 for only four years, with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. The Centre later extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.
Sixty trains, along with 11 engines, and property worth approximately Rs 700 crore has been vandalised in Bihar alone in the past four days, while states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan also saw aspirants up in arms.
As the agitation intensified in some places, protestors went on a rampage, setting trains on fire, torching vehicles and damaging both private and public properties.
The NSA, however, said youth who are serious about joining the armed forces do not get misguided. “A true Agniveer will not be influenced or misguided. They will prepare rather than do protests. The people who are doing all this, I do not think they are willing to join the Armed Forces or have a psychic mental set.”
Doval said raising their voice was justified but vandalism would not be tolerated. “I think protest, raising voice is justified in a democracy. Violence and vandalism will not be tolerated. Reforms are required in various forms such as police. Lessons should be learnt from the circumstances. Many FIRs have been lodged. People behind these will be identified,” he said.