Rajat Sharma


AKB30 Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi was embroiled in Agniveer controversy again on Thursday. He released a video of the father of 23-year-old Agniveer martyr Ajay Kumar, in which the father was shown as saying that the family had not received any compensation or help from the Centre after his son was killed in a landmine explosion in Naushera on January 18 this year. The Indian Army promptly rebutted the charge saying the martyr’s family has already received Rs 98 lakhs as insurance money, and another Rs 67 crore assistance from the government was in the pipeline. Two days ago, Rahul Gandhi had alleged in the Lok Sabha that Agniveer jawans do not get the status of martyr, nor do they get pension or any compensation if they lose their life or limb. As example, Rahul mentioned Agniveer martyr Ajay Kumar’s name and alleged that his family had told him that it did not receive any money from the government. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh immediately intervened and told Rahul Gandhi not to mislead the House. Rajnath Singh said that the family of any Agniveer jawan who is martyred during operations, is given Rs 1 crore as compensation and Ajay Kumar’s family was also paid the same. On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi took to social media and posted the video of the martyr’s father claiming that the family did not receive any money. Rahul Gandhi referred to this video and demanded that the Defence Minister must apologize for misleading the nation. Within two hours, the Army released a statement on X disclosing the exact amount received by the martyr’s family till date. The Army’s statement said, “Certain posts on social media have brought out that compensation hasn’t been paid to the next of kin of Agniveer Ajay Kumar who lost his life in the line of duty…The last rites were carried out with full military honours. Of the total amount due, family of Agniveer Ajay has already been paid Rs 98.39 lakhs. Ex-gratia and other benefits amounting to approximately Rs 67 lakhs, as applicable according to the provisions of the Agniveer scheme, will be paid on final account settlement shortly post due police verification. The total amount will be Rs 1.65 crore approximately.” In our prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’, I explained the entire issue with the help of documentary evidence. Documents clearly show that after Agniveer Ajay was martyred on January 18, his mother Manjeet Kaur received Rs 50 lakhs as insurance claim from ICICI Lombard insurance company on February 13, after the family filed claim on January 24. This insurance policy is part of the Army’s Agniveer scheme, under which the defence ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding with ICICI Lombard company. It clearly states that Rs 50 lakh insurance money must be paid to any Agniveer who is martyred during war or near the border. Apart from this, the army itself insures the life of every Agniveer, under which Rs 48 lakhs were paid on June 10 to Ajay Kumar’s family. The money was credited to Ajay Kumar’s mother’s SBI account. Apart from this, the family will also receive Rs 44 lakh ex-gratia from the army, Rs 8 lakhs from Army Welfare Fund, and the salary money for the remaining part of his service, which comes to Rs 13 lakhs. Also, Ajay’s family will get Rs 2.30 lakhs from Service Fund. In all, the martyr’s family shall be getting Rs 67.30 lakh from the army, after police verification is over. The total amount that the family will receive will come to Rs 1,65,69,000, out of which Rs 98,39,000 has already been paid. Rahul Gandhi had posted the video of Charanjit Singh, Ajay’s father, resident of Ramgarh Sardaran village near Ludhiana. The question now is, who is telling the truth? Rahul Gandhi or Rajnath Singh? Several reporters met the family members on Thursday. Martyr Ajay Kumar has six sisters. His father Charanjit Singh said, Rahul Gandhi had come to their home on May 29 before polling, and by that time the family had already received Rs 50 lakhs, while Rs 48 lakhs were received in June. The martyr’s father said, the family did receive the money. The martyr’s sister Baksho Kaur said, they had no complaint against the army, which stood by the family after the martyrdom of her brother, and the funeral was done with full military honours. Four points must be clear from martyr Ajay Kumar’s case. One, everybody must have sympathy and respect for the martyr’s family, because Ajay was the only son in the family who laid down his life for the country. Two, martyrdom can never be and should never be measured through monetary compensation. The money that the martyr’s family received must be regarded as a token of gratitude of the nation towards the family. Three, the family has received almost Rs 1 crore, and more money is in the pipeline. Four, a soldier’s sacrifice must not be made a political issue. It is unfortunate that the martyr’s compensation was debated in Parliament. It appears that Rahul Gandhi was told by his associates that the family did not get any money. Even after the Defence Minister informed Rahul Gandhi inside the House that nearly Rs 1 crore has been given to the family, Rahul persisted in his allegation and blamed the Defence Minister for misleading the nation. Now that the Army has given details of the payments made to the martyr’s family, everybody should trust its explanation. It is the responsibility of the Army to ensure that compensation and ex-gratia are given to martyrs, and no questions must be raised. The people of India have full faith in our Army, and this should, in no case, be diminished. History is witness how our Army, Navy and Air Force jawans and officers gave their supreme sacrifice in defence of the motherland. The nation shall forever remain grateful to our armed forces for their sacrifice and valour.

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