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SOURCE: PTI

The Indian Army on Wednesday rejected claims in social media posts that compensation hasn’t been paid to the next of kin of Agniveer Ajay Kumar who lost his life in the line of duty, and said the family has already been paid Rs 98.39 lakh out of the amount due.

The total amount will be Rs 1.65 crore approximately, it said in the “clarification” that came after Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi shared on X a video purportedly of Kumar’s father, who stated he had not received any money.

Gandhi cited Kumar’s case to allege in his post that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has “lied” in Parliament about the issue of compensation to families of martyred Agniveers and demanded an apology for it.

Singh, while intervening when Gandhi was speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address in Lok Sabha, had said on Monday that an Agniveer who lays down his life in the line of duty gets a compensation of Rs 1 crore.

In a post on ‘X’, the additional directorate general of public information of the Army said that the Indian Army “salutes the supreme sacrifice made by Agniveer Ajay Kumar” and emphasised that the emoluments due to a fallen hero are paid expeditiously to the next of kin of departed soldiers, including Agniveers.

“Certain posts on the social media have brought out that compensation hasn’t been paid to the next of kin of Agniveer Kumar who lost his life in the line of duty,” it wrote.

“It is emphasised that the Indian Army salutes the supreme sacrifice made by Agniveer Ajay Kumar. 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,” the Army said in the post.

“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 cr approximately. It is re-emphasised that emoluments due to a fallen hero are paid expeditiously to the next of kin of departed soldiers, including Agniveers. #IndianArmy,” it added.

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

In his video message on Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi said that he had stated in his speech in Parliament that the protection of truth is the basis of every religion.

“In reply, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, before Lord Shiva’s photo, lied to the country, its armed forces and Agniveers about compensation,” Gandhi said in the video.

He referred to the purported statement by the Ajay Singh’s father that Rajnath Singh made the statement that families of martyrs have been given Rs 1 crore compensation but no such assistance had been received by his family.

Gandhi said the defence minister had “lied” to the family of martyr Ajay Singh, the armed forces and the youth of the country, and must apologise to them.

Gandh’s fresh attack came after Rajnath Singh rebutted the Leader of Opposition’s claims in the Lok Sabha on the Agnipath military recruitment scheme.

The Congress leader had on Monday criticised the Agnipath scheme for short-term military recruitment and said that the government does not even give them the status of a “shaheed” (martyr) and that no compensation is extended to their families if they are killed in action.

The Union minister had asked Gandhi not to mislead Parliament and also requested Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to expunge the former Congress president’s claims on the Agnipath scheme.

Intervening, the defence minister had said, “I would like to humbly request the leader of the opposition not to try to mislead Parliament. Regarding the Agniveer scheme, direct communication was established with many people, 158 organisations, their suggestions were taken, then this Agniveer scheme was brought. This scheme has been brought after a lot of thought.”
“And, I would also like to make it clear that these kinds of schemes are operational in many countries. It is there in the US, in the UK. People there do not have any objection. Without understanding the Agniveer scheme, without getting proper information about it… to mislead the House like this, cannot be deemed appropriate,” the minister added.

After Singh’s rebuttal, Gandhi had said, “Rajnath Singh has an opinion and I have an opinion but Agniveers know the truth. Agniveers know what they have to face.”
Sharing Rahul Gandhi’s video, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said when he raised the issue of Agniveer from the opposition side, the BJP government “lied” in Parliament.

“The BJP is insulting the sacrifice of the families who gave up their sons for the country by telling lies. Is this the nationalism of BJP? The prime minister should apologise to the public for lying to the country and insulting the martyrs,” she said in a post in Hindi on X.