The government of India banned 35 WhatsApp group over spreading Agnipath scheme fake news

According to government sources, the Central government banned 35 WhatsApp groups on Sunday for allegedly spreading false information on the Agnipath Scheme and the Agniveers.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) took the action in response to reports that social media platforms such as WhatsApp were being used to mobilise protests in states such as Bihar, which grew more virulent on Friday (17 June), when a mob attacked Deputy Chief Minister Renu Devi’s house, in addition to causing damage to railway property and disrupting normal life in a number of districts in Bihar.

According to sources, the Centre has also assigned the number 8799711259 to WhatsApp fact-checking.

The Bihar government also halted internet services in 12 of its districts until Sunday, claiming that the internet was being used to disseminate rumours with the objective to instigate the public and do damage to life and property.

Bihar has been witnessing agitations since June 15, a day after the government announced a new scheme for recruiting young people to the armed forces on a four-year contractual basis, after which only 25% will be “regularised” based on performance evaluation by seniors, while the rest will be discharged from service with no pensionary benefits.

“In the three days (from June 15 to June 17), around 620 people were arrested and as many as 130 First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered in Bihar,” Sanjay Singh, ADG, Law and Order, said earlier on the protests against the Agnipath recruitment scheme, adding that “140 people were arrested on Saturday.”

According to the East Central Railway, over 60 trains have been cancelled and two have been cancelled due to law and order issues and perceived threats to railway property and passengers in Bihar.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh unveiled the ‘Agnipath’ scheme on Tuesday, calling it a transformative initiative that will give the armed services a younger face.

“Under the Agnipath Scheme, Indian youth would be given the option to serve in the armed forces as Agniveers,” Rajnath Singh had stated.

The Agnipath system was implemented to improve India’s security. After four years of service, the ‘Agniveers’ will be granted a nice wage package as well as an exit retirement plan.

This measure is intended to reduce the escalating pay and pension expenditures, but there are serious fears that it will have a negative influence on the professionalism, military ethos, and fighting spirit of the nearly 14-lakh strong armed forces.

Notably, Agnipath is a national merit-based recruitment programme for soldiers, airmen, and sailors. The concept allows young people to serve in the regular cadre of the armed forces. All Agnipath Scheme recruits will be referred to as ‘Agniveers.’

Agniveers will be enrolled for a 4-year service tenure, including training. Only 25% of Agniveers will be maintained or re-enlisted in the regular cadre after four years based on merit, willingness, and medical fitness.

These 25% Agniveers will then serve another full term of 15 years.

The first four years of service under a contract are unlikely to be considered when determining eventual pensionary benefits.

The remaining 75% of ‘Agniveers’ would be demobilised, with an exit or “Seva Nidhi” package worth Rs 11-12 lakh, partially funded by their monthly payments, as well as skill certificates and bank loans to assist them to start new occupations.