Despite the prime minister Narendra Modi, losing no opportunity to take credit for the valour of Indian defense forces and using terror attacks on soldiers, to pump up his nationalist narrative, the fact is that he has no concrete plans for the welfare of soldiers, and their families, when they die in action.
One Crore Compensation by AAP and LG Interference
When the AAP government in Delhi, announced in 2016, a compensation of Rs 1 crore for uniformed men who die in action, at a time when other states were giving no more than Rs 5 lakh, it immediately had the Lieutenant Governor, on its tail. After just two or three compensations were awarded, the LG put a stop to it, for more than two years, seeing the interest it was garnering in the rest of the country. While announcing the scheme Arvind Kejriwal had stated that while it is good that sportspersons who won accolades for the country are awarded so generously, the families of the martyrs, who in most cases lose the sole earning member of the family, should be honoured similarly. That they had decided to take this step, when they came to power. He had further stated that no country is going to get poor by honouring the martyrs and hoped that the other states would follow suit.
Since July 2018 last year, they have got back the powers to award this promised compensation and have awarded about 20 martyrs so far.
Different States, Difference Compensation
The newly appointed chief CM of Madhya Pradesh, Kamalnath, too has gone ahead and “announced” for one of the soldiers from MP, who died in the Pulwama attack recently, Rs 1 crore, plus a house and job for a family member. This is the highest that the families of dead soldiers have been ‘promised’ so far, but whether it has already been handed out is a matter of investigation. Maharashtra announced Rs 50 lakhs, job and house, UP Rs 25 lakhs, Rajasthan Rs 25 lakhs, land and job, Assam Rs 20 lakhs, Punjab Rs 12 lakhs and a job and Assam Rs 10 lakhs.
Reality behind Promised Compensation in Different States
Last month Quint had done a story of how even the families of the soldiers who died in Uri in September 2016, have not been given the Rs 10 lakhs, plus house among other things, promised to them by the Akhilesh Yadav government. The Bihar government promised them Rs 20 lakh but gave them only Rs 5 lakh, which the families refused to accept. On the grounds, that the Bihar government gives the victims of hooch tragedies Rs 4 lakhs as well. And the families of the soldiers felt dishonored by this. After a lot of outrage on social media, the amount was finally increased to Rs 11 lakhs.
The family of jawan Ranjit Kumar who along with 12 personnel was killed in Sukama, in Chhattisgarh, when Maoists opened fire on them, received a cheque of Rs 5 lakh, instead of the promised Rs 20 lakh, which too bounced.
Home minister Rajnath Singh had announced a compensation of Rs 1 crores, to the victims of the Sukama tragedy, in March 2017, but nothing came of it.
The family of CRPF jawan Mujahid Khan, of Bihar, killed in Srinagar, while battling terrorists in February 2018, too was upset with the compensation of Rs 5 lakh, instead of the promised Rs 20 lakh. They were upset that while a large number of locals, from even nearby villages, had gathered at the soldier’s funeral, no minister or senior government official came to pay their last respects. They too felt offended that the soldier’s value was almost equal to a hooch victim and demanded that an honorable compensation be given.
Amongst the worst defaulters are states like UP and Bihar, when compensating the families of martyrs is concerned. There was a lot of backlash when the mother of Captain Aayush Yadav, who was killed in action in Kupwara, was given a cheque of mere Rs 25 lakh, by a minister in the Yogi government, Satish Mahana. The distraught mother had wanted revenge for the death of her son.
Delay and Trauma
Besides the cash compensation, there is considerable delay, sometimes for years, when lands and houses are promised by way of compensation. As it happened with Subhashini Vasanth, wife of the first Ashok Chakra awardee from Karnataka, Colonel Vasanth Venugopal, who got the promised land after seven long years, and several visits to the Vidhan Sabha. The colonel had lost his life battling infiltrators in Kashmir in 2007.
The trauma that the family undergoes to get the compensation they are promised by the government, even inspired the Sanjay Suri and Gul Panag starrer Dhoop. The film documents the trauma of S K Nayyar, the father of Captain Anuj Nayyar, Kargil war hero. The already distraught father was asked to prove that he indeed was the father, for the promised petrol pump to be allotted to him.
Disparity between Defense and Paramilitary Forces
Central Government (BJP)
The Modi government has in the last five years even failed to end the disparity between the defense forces and paramilitary forces like CRPF and BSF. While in Bihar, an army soldier killed in action gets Rs 11 lakhs in compensation, a paramilitary soldier gets only Rs 5 lakhs.
Delhi Government (AAP)
Delhi government is the only government in the country, which has ended all disparity in the various services, awarding all the three wings of the forces, paramilitary forces, Delhi police, home guards, civil defense, Delhi fire service and the district disaster management staff equally. Even those missing in war, and the disabled who suffer the most under the other state governments, are included in this Rs 1 crore. Since services has not been restored to Delhi government yet, they have not been able to offer jobs to the family members, which they promise to do with retrospective effective, as soon as services comes to them. A three member team headed by the deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia will personally process these claims.
Here are the instances (before SC judgement) where Delhi govt has provided Rs 1 crore compensation to martyr’s families.
- Dec 2013: Delhi govt announced Rs 1 Cr for Vinod Rai, a police constable who was killed by liquor mafia.
- Feb 2015: CM Arvind Kejriwal announced Rs 1 Cr for Cobra battalion head constable Narottam Das who sacrificed his life in a landmine blast in Gaya. A job was also offered to martyr Narottam’s wife. Delhi govt also promised to take care of educational expenses of his children.
- Dec 2015: Delhi govt gave Rs 1 crore to family of Constable Ram Kumar who lost his life in Karkardooma court firing incident in Dec, 2015.
- Apr 2016: Delhi govt announced Rs 1 crore compensation to the family of slain NIA officer Tanzhil Ahmed.
- May 2016: Delhi govt provides Rs 1 crore as compensation to MM Khan – the NDMC law officer, who was murdered by a Hotel owner because he refused to take bribe for letting him off in an illegal construction. Check to the families of Tanzhil Ahmed and MM Khan were given in July.
- Aug 2016: Delhi govt announced Rs 1 Cr as compensation to the family of constable Anand Kumar who died fighting robbers in Shahbad.
Tanzil Ahmed, and the legal adviser of the New Delhi Municipal Council, MM Khan, both of whom were shot dead in April and May 2016 respectively, while staying true to their work. Both the officers were being bribed in crores but chose not to take it and lost their lives in the bargain. Their families were awarded Rs 1 crore each. The children of officer Tanzil Ahmed were awarded Rs 50 lakhs each as well, while one member of the family of MM Khan was given a job in NDMC.
The lives of these uniformed men are very cheaply dismissed by the centre and the respective state governments and a sizeable compensation for these martyrs will ensure that the government too pulls up its socks, to ensure that less and less lives are lost due to government apathy which doesn’t offer them sufficient protection, like in the case of the Pulwama tragedy in February this year, where 44 lives were lost unnecessarily.