One dead in India unrest over military hiring

STORY: At least one person has died as violent demonstrations spread across India in opposition to a new military recruitment process announced earlier this week.

It comes as authorities imposed restrictions on gatherings in Gurugram, a satellite city of New Delhi that is home to the offices of several multinational firms.

Demonstrators set fire to train coaches in the eastern state of Bihar on Friday (June 17) as the protests raged for a second day.

Police fired shots in the air on Thursday (June 16) to push back stone-throwing crowds in the northern state of Haryana.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is planning an overhaul of the recruitment process for the almost 1.4 million-strong armed forces.

Aiming to bring in more people on short, four-year contracts to lower the average age of personnel.

The new system, called Agnipath or "path of fire" in Hindi, will bring in men and women between the ages of 17-and-a-half and 21 for a four-year tenure at non-officer ranks, with only a quarter retained for longer periods.

Soldiers have previously been recruited by the army, navy and air force separately, and typically serve for up to 17 years, for the lowest ranks.

Potential recruits object, saying they should be allowed to serve longer than four years.

Opposition parties and some members of Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have criticized the plan, saying the system will lead to more unemployment in a country already grappling with joblessness.

On Friday, the government announced a one-time extension to the maximum entry age into the scheme, raising it to 23 as a result of recruitment freezes over the past two years, due to the global health crisis.

The armed forces aim to recruit about 46,000 people under the new system this year, and will keep 25% of them on at the end of their four-year terms.

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