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Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

New Delhi: India on Thursday said the Indian Army has been inducting Gorkha soldiers from Nepal for a long time and the exercise will continue under the newly launched Agnipath recruitment scheme.

The comments by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi came amid some apprehensions in Nepal about the age-old induction of Nepali youths into the Indian Army in view of the rollout of the Agnipath scheme.

“We have been recruiting Gorkha soldiers into the Indian Army for a long time and we look forward to continuing recruiting Gorkha soldiers into the Indian Army under the Agnipath scheme,” Bagchi said during the weekly media briefing.

The Indian Army’s Gorkha regiments have 43 battalions and they comprise Indian soldiers as well as those recruited from Nepal.

The Agnipath scheme, announced on June 14, provides for the recruitment of youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. Later, the government extended the upper age limit to 23 years for recruitment in 2022.

The personnel to be recruited under the new scheme will be known as ‘Agniveers’.

Under the scheme, the three services are planning to recruit 46,000 soldiers this year. A major objective of the scheme is to bring down the average age of military personnel.

To a question on reports of a visit to India by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bagchi said he did not have any details to share on it.

Asked about the Rohingya issue, he referred to a press statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

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