Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann Monday said his government will accord the status of a martyr to Agniveer Amritpal Singh who died in Jammu and Kashmir last week, amid a row over the Army not according a military funeral to the soldier.
Mann, who visited the Amritpal Singh’s house in Kotli Kalan village in Mansa district on Monday, handed over a cheque of Rs 1 crore as compensation to his family, according to an official statement.
Amritpal Singh, who was serving with a battalion of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in Poonch sector, died on October 11. He was cremated on Friday at his native Kotli Kalan village in Punjab’s Mansa district.
The Army has said Agniveer Amritpal Singh committed suicide by shooting himself while on sentry duty and that military honours were not extended to his funeral as deaths arising out of self-inflicted injuries are not given such honours.
The Army on Sunday asserted that it does not differentiate among soldiers based on whether they joined the force prior to or after the implementation of the Agnipath scheme.
The chief minister, who also paid tributes to the soldier, said the state government stands firmly with the family during this time of grief.
He said the state government recognises the “irreparable loss” to the nation and particularly to the martyr’s family. A statue in the memory of the martyr would also be installed in the village, said Mann.
Expressing his displeasure over the Army not giving a guard of honour to Amritpal Singh, the CM said this act of “discrimination” will hurt the morale of Army personnel.
“Such kind of discrimination will prove to be dangerous in the Army,” he said, adding the state government will accord Amritpal Singh a status of martyr.
“It is truly unfortunate that his sacrifice, in the line of duty, has not been recognised as that of a martyr, setting a concerning precedent,” Mann said.
Mann said it is shameful that for the first time the body of a martyred soldier was brought in a private ambulance which is an insult to him.
It is even more unfortunate that the Army declared Amritpal’s martyrdom as a suicide, which he said was like rubbing salt into the wounds of the martyr’s family.
A courageous soldier who embarks on a duty with the commitment to lay down his life for the country can never commits suicide, said Mann.
“It is more than an insult saying that he committed suicide. He was taking care of his entire family,” said Mann, adding, “a person who opts for the Army does not commit suicide”.
If martyrs were to be treated in this manner, it might dissuade parents from sending their children to the army, he said.
Strongly opposing the Agniveer scheme, Mann said it was an insult to the contribution of the brave soldiers and the Central government should reconsider it.
He said that jobs of army personnel recruited under the Agniveer scheme should be regularized.
No matter what policy the Centre adopts towards the martyrs of the country, the Punjab government is committed to honouring the families and supreme sacrifices of all brave sons of the state, he said.
Slamming the Central government for giving a “step-motherly” treatment to the soldier, he said it is shameful that the Centre adopted an “apathetic” attitude towards the valiant son of the country.
It is completely unjustified and disrespecting the martyrdom of the son of Punjab, said Mann, adding that he would soon take up the issue with the Centre.
He said the state government will impress upon the Union government to roll back the Agniveer scheme which is “grave insult of the brave soldiers”.
Mann also visited the house of Parvinder Singh, the soldier who laid down his life at Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.
At Parvinder Singh’s residence at Chhajli in Sangrur, Mann handed over a cheque for Rs 1 crore to his family as a mark of respect, the statement said.