The Indian Navy said on Tuesday that, provided they achieve the necessary qualifications, up to 20% of the initial class of "Agniveers"—military recruits under the government's "Agnipath" program—will be women.

These 'Agniveers' will be sent to different branches of the country's maritime defence force, Navy officials told news agency.

On July 1, the Navy started accepting applications for the "Agnipath" scheme, and on Monday, government officials informed ANI that some 10,000 female aspirants had already done so.

"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.

According to a FAQ on the Indian Navy website, the branches that will accept competent women "Agniveers" include ordnance, electrical and naval air mechanics, communications (ops) and communications (electronic warfare), and gunnery weapons and sensors.

According to insiders, this will be the first time the Navy will permit women to serve as sailors who can be deployed on warships in accordance with operational requirements.

"We have decided the time has come to recruit women sailors... which will include women who will go to sea," Navy officials told.

In the meantime, more than 2.7 lakh prospective "Agnives" have sought to join the Air Force, whose hiring period closes today. Intake for the Air Force began on June 24.

On July 1, the Army started recruiting under the "Agnipath" strategy, and enlistment rallies have been planned all around the nation.

Defense Minister Rajnath Singh introduced the "Agnipath" programme on June 14, but opposition parties and potential recruits to the armed forces fiercely objected to the program's requirement that 75% of recruits resign after four years.

Violence sprang out during the rallies; buses, buildings, and train stations were burned down, and one person died in Telangana.

Despite the numerous protests, the authorities resisted changing the plan. Instead, some states and union ministries assured "Agniveers" who were forced to retire of support in the form of loans and job quotas.

However, the armed services have made it plain that participants in the "Agnipath" scheme must affirm they did not take part in burning or protests.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court has consented to hear petitions against the "Agnipath" programme next week. One of the petitions claims the plan "undermines the professionalism, ethos, and fighting spirit of the armed services."