Factcheck: Caste and religion are NOT new additions to armed forces recruitment application
Just a day after Parliament convened for the monsoon session, Rajya Sabha MP and AAP leader Sanjay Singh, in a Twitter post, enclosed a screenshot of the Indian Army recruitment application, highlighting the section where it asks aspirants to furnish caste and religion certificates. But is Sanjay Singh's contention true? No, it is not!
The armed forces recruitment process came under cloud once again after senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh, and a few other Opposition members questioned the Narendra Modi-led government over aspirants being asked about their caste and religion during the process.
Just a day after Parliament convened for the monsoon session, Rajya Sabha MP and AAP leader Sanjay Singh, in a Twitter post, said that the "rotten face of the Modi government has been exposed".
In his tweet, he also enclosed a screenshot of the Indian Army recruitment application, highlighting the section where it asks aspirants to furnish caste and religion certificates.
In the same tweet, he mentioned that PM Modi doesn't consider Dalits, backwards, and tribal people capable of joining the army.
He further asked, "This is the first time in India's history that caste is being asked in army recruitment. Mr Modi, do you want to create 'Agniveer' or 'Jativeer'."
But is Sanjay Singh's contention really true? No, it is not!
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has termed it as just a rumour. "The earlier system, existing since the pre-independence era, is still going on. No change has been made. The old system is being continued," Rajnath said when asked about the allegations.
According to defence ministry sources, the Indian Army categorically denied tinkering with its recruitment policy for Agniveer. It said that caste and religion columns were present in the application since the inception.
"The requirement for aspirants to submit caste certificates and if required, religion certificates have always been there. There has not been any change to the Agniveer recruitment scheme in this regard," Indian Army officials said.
Why are caste and religion columns required?
Religion is required for performing the last rites as per the religious rituals for recruits who die during training and soldiers who die during their line of duty.
What the Indian Army told the Supreme Court
In an affidavit filed in 2013 before the Supreme Court, the Army had said that it was just for administrative and operational requirements and had no role in the selection process.
It had admitted that certain regiments are composed and organised or grouped on reasonable classification lines but the overall process of recruitment is open to all classes.
'Certain regiments of the Army are organised on lines of classification because cultural, social and linguistic homogeneity has been observed to be a force multiplier as a battle winning factor,' the affidavit said, adding, 'The commonality of language and culture only further augments the smooth execution of operation.'
BJP hits back at Opposition
The BJP has termed Sanjay Singh's statement as a 'self-goal'. BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya has asserted that the system has existed since the colonial era and was formalized in 1949 through a special Army order.
He said that the Modi government is just following the procedure in place for more than seven decades.
Aiming to make lean, modern and young forces, the government had announced an 'Agnipath' scheme for the youths to be recruited for four years with no other benefits to which a retired soldier is entitled.
Since the scheme was launched by Defence minister Rajnath Singh and three service chiefs in June this year, a series of protests, including the violent one carried out across the country in protest against it. However, a total of over 7.5 lakh youths applied under the Agnipath scheme, and further recruitment process is underway. The process of application filings is underway in the army and the navy.