The Indian Navy on Tuesday said that up to 20 per cent of the first batch of 'Agniveers' - military recruits under the government's 'Agnipath' scheme - will be women, subject to their meeting qualification criteria.
These 'Agniveers' will be sent to different branches of the country's maritime defence force, Navy officials told news agency ANI.
The Navy began recruitment under the 'Agnipath' scheme on July 1 and on Monday government officials told ANI that around 10,000 women candidates had already applied.
"The Agnipath scheme in the Navy will be gender-neutral. As we speak, 30 women officers are sailing on frontline warships," Navy officials had said.
The branches that will induct qualified women 'Agniveers' include ordnance, electrical and naval air mechanics, communications (ops) and communications (electronic warfare), and gunnery weapons and sensors, according to a FAQ on the Indian Navy website.
This will be the first time the Navy will allow women as sailors who can be deployed on warships as per operational requirements, according to ANI.
"We have decided the time has come to recruit women sailors... which will include women who will go to sea," Navy officials told ANI.
Meanwhile, over 2.7 lakh potential 'Agniveers' have applied to join the Air Force, for which recruitment ends today. The Air Force opened applications 24 June.
The Army began recruitment under the 'Agnipath' scheme on 1 July and rallies to enlist have been scheduled across the country.
The 'Agnipath' scheme was launched 14 June by defence minister Rajnath Singh but it met with massive protests from opposition parties and armed forces aspirants, who criticised retirement for 75 per cent of recruits after four years.
The protests turned violent; train stations and coaches torched and roads and buildings vandalised, and one person died in Telangana.
The government refused to roll back the scheme despite the widespread protests. Instead union ministries and several states promised support to 'Agniveers' forced to retire, assuring them of job quotas and loans.
The armed forces have, however, made it clear to that those signing up under the 'Agnipath' scheme must pledge they did not take part in arson or protests.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear next week petitions challenging the 'Agnipath' scheme. One of the petitioners has contended the scheme 'undermines armed forces' professionalism, ethos, and fighting spirit'.