The government is going ahead with the implementation of the Agnipath scheme in recruitment to the defence forces despite having witnessed large scale protests across several states. Anger among the youth already burdened by shrinking employment avenues continues to simmer and observers feel that it will not die down in the coming months.

Besides the political parties that have been demanding a roll back of the scheme, organizations like the Samyukt Kisan Morcha which led the agitation leading to the withdrawal of the controversial farm laws have announced their support to the agitating youth. These developments raise the question whether this agitation will grow into a movement and how it will play out in states soon going to the polls like Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and later Karnataka.

One of the states emerging as a cradle of an organized people's movement against the Agnipath scheme happens to be Haryana which was also in the thick of the farmers' movement. Haryanvis are among the top contributors to the defence forces and a lot of churning is underway in the state.

Sources on the ground say that panchayats are being organized to galvanize public opinion against the government move, with people being informed of how the initiative announced will play out in the long run both for recruits and the health of the defence forces. A couple of panchayats have already been organized in Jind and Sampla and more are in the offing.

There are also reports of some of the khaps threatening to socially isolate any youth who fill out the Agniveer forms for recruitment under the scheme. Such a stand by the khaps is being criticized widely as an "ill conceived" move that would amount to "persecuting the victim".

An interesting aspect is that there is a lot of agitation among young people in the southern districts of the state like Rewari and Mahendragarh that did not witness very enthusiastic support for the farm agitation. Observers say these districts apart from the Jat belt supply many young recruits to the forces. Being part of a dry belt, agriculture is not a lucrative option in these districts because of a lack of irrigation facilities, and there is a lot of unrest across the state as even the districts that got the benefits of the green revolution are witnessing an overall agrarian crisis.

Meanwhile there is an attempt from some quarters to project the decent performance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – Jannayak Janata Party in the recently held urban local body polls as a sign that people have accepted the government initiative. But observers say that it was only local permutation and combinations at work in the combine's winning 26 of 45 municipal councils, in an election where the Congress did not contest on its party symbol.

On the possibility of the agitation going the farmers' movement way, All India Kisan Sabha leader Inderjeet said, "No movement can be an imitation or repetition of the other. Even before the government announced the Agnipath scheme there was a deep rooted anger among the youth as the present unemployment is the highest in the last 45 years. This announcement was a trigger."

He further explained that unlike the farmers' movement, the present agitation does not comprise a well knit network of organizations and is not an organized force. "The youth organizations can play an important role in organizing the agitated youth but as of now even their scope is limited. The saner elements have realized that violence is not the way ahead. However, this does not mean that the anger has subsided. It will not evaporate. It is not only the youth that is agitated but their parents and families as well."

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar meanwhile announced a guarantee of Group C or Haryana Police jobs for Agniveers after their 4-year tenure expires. "You serve the nation, we will take care of you," he said.

Similarly in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has hailed the scheme calling it "visionary".

His poll bound state has witnessed protests by agitated youth in almost every district including the belt comprising Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Bilaspur that sends a large number of youth to the forces and has also been a BJP stronghold. One can gauge the mood among the protestors as they raised slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was in Dharamshala last week.

Like Haryana, Himachal too has a large number of ex-servicemen voters alongside youth employed in the defence and paramilitary forces.

There have been some protests in poll bound Gujarat as well, home turf of Modi and home minister Amit Shah. Gujarat is not known for much of a contribution to the forces in terms of manpower. Whatever number joins the forces is mainly from the Tribal areas of the north or from Saurashtra, or from families who have migrated from places like Bihar or Uttar Pradesh.

There have been protests in Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Jamnagar among others. Reports say the police have been told not to lodge FIRs against the agitators and instead counsel them about the purported benefits of the scheme.

"This is obviously because of the approaching polls. Besides, it is also a pointer towards who has the right to protest in present times," said an observer based in Ahmedabad.

Meanwhile, the SKM, while appealing to the agitators to keep their protests peaceful, has declared its support to the youth against the Agnipath scheme. With many farming families sending youth to the defence forces, it has termed the scheme "anti-military, anti-farmer and anti-national".

"When the central government is bent upon destroying the spirit of the slogan 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan', it is the duty of the farmer's movement to stand shoulder to shoulder with the jawans in this struggle," a statement from the SKM leadership said.

It observed June 24 as a day of protest against the scheme and submitted a memorandum to the President of India. It is to chalk out its future strategy at a national meet scheduled on July 3 in Ghaziabad.