Press Trust of india

AAP slams Centre over no military funeral for Agniveer killed in Poonch

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New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) questioned the BJP-led Centre on Sunday on not according a military funeral to Agniveer Amritpal Singh, who died in Jammu and Kashmir on October 11.

A row erupted on Saturday, with opposition parties expressing shock over the matter.

However, the Army said since Singh’s cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot injury, no guard of honour or military funeral was provided in accordance with the existing policy.

Addressing a press conference here, senior AAP leader Raghav Chadha said Singh’s family will not be entitled to pension, while he will not be accorded the status of a martyr.

Singh, who was serving with a battalion of the Army’s Jammu and Kashmir Rifles unit in the Poonch sector, was cremated on Friday at his native village in Punjab’s Mansa district.

“No Army unit came to hand over his body. His body was brought in a private ambulance and he was not given any military honour. But the police gave him state honours during his last rites,” Chadha said.

He said this “raises serious questions” over the policies of the BJP-led Centre.

“The Punjab government, led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, will be giving an amount of Rs 1 crore as Samman Rashi to the family of Amritpal Singh and will also accord the status of a martyr to him. The Punjab government is with them in this hour of grief,” the AAP leader said.

Chadha questioned the Centre over the Agniveer scheme for short-term recruitment into the armed forces.

“Does the government differentiate between jawans and agniveers? What will be the future of those agniveers who complete four years on duty? Is only dying after being hit by an enemy bullet considered martyrdom? A soldier can die due to other reasons or under other circumstances while being on duty. Will this act of the government not affect the morale of the Army?” he asked.

Expressing displeasure, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann questioned why the Army could not give Amritpal a guard of honour. “Why not? You gave him the uniform and he is a martyr of the country,” Mann said.

The chief minister asserted that since there was no change in his government’s policy, he would meet with Amritpal’s family on Monday and hand over the cheque.

Mann added that the Punjab government considers any soldier who lays down his life for the country a martyr.

If any soldier suffers a heart attack or a brain haemorrhage at minus 40 degrees temperature, he should be regarded as a martyr as he was serving the nation, he added.

“It is not necessary that he be killed by an enemy bullet,” Mann stressed.

The Punjab chief minister also said he has been opposing the Agniveer scheme of the Army.

In a statement on Saturday, the Army said in an unfortunate incident, Agniveer Amritpal Singh died while on sentry duty in the Rajouri sector due to a self-inflicted gunshot injury. A court of inquiry to ascertain more details is in progress, it informed.

The body of Singh, accompanied by a junior commissioned officer and four other ranks, was transported in a civil ambulance hired by his unit, the statement said, adding that the accompanying Army personnel also attended the last rites.

“The cause of death being a self-inflicted injury, no guard of honour or military funeral was provided, in accordance with the existing policy,” it said.

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