Ludhiana:

The family of Agniveer Ajay Kumar has demanded ‘hero status’ for him from the Indian Army after he died in the line of duty. The family said the compensation money cannot replace Ajay Kumar.

“We want the Agniveer scheme to be scrapped and we want to be given a pension and canteen card,” his father told NDTV.

The sentiments were echoed by Kumar’s sister, who raised concerns over the adequacy of compensation provided. “My brother lost his life for a four-year job. When the government promises Rs 1 crore, can a family survive on that amount alone without him?” she asked, calling for a re-evaluation of the Agniveer scheme.

“The government gave us money, but we want them to stop the program,” she said.

The Agnipath programme, launched in 2022, was designed to recruit personnel for short-term service in the armed forces, with the aim of reducing the age profile within the armed forces. These individuals, known as Agniveers, are currently not eligible for regular benefits such as pension for their families in the event of death in the line of duty.

The issue has led to wider discussions. For example, a parliamentary committee previously recommended that families of Agniveers who die in the line of duty should receive compensation equal to that of family members of military personnel.

He also said that while the family received Rs 98 lakhs, only Rs 48 lakhs came from the Army. This is in contrast to the Army’s statement that the family received Rs 98.39 lakhs of the total amount due.

In a statement late on Wednesday, the army denied claims circulating on social media that the family had not received the promised compensation. They confirmed that a total amount of Rs 98.39 lakh had indeed been paid to the family of Agniveer Ajay Kumar.

“It is emphasised that the Indian Army honours the supreme sacrifice of Agniveer Ajay Kumar. Of the total amount due, the family of Agniveer Ajay has already received Rs 98.39 lakhs. Ex-Gratia and other benefits worth approximately Rs 67 lakhs, as applicable under the provisions of Agniveer Scheme, will be paid in the final settlement soon after police verification. The total amount will be approximately Rs 1.65 Cr,” the Army said in a statement.

The family acknowledged receiving the said amount and said that Rs 50 lakh came from an insurance policy.

“First we got Rs 50 lakh insurance money from ICICI bank. Then we got Rs 48 lakh from the army. We have not received the full amount yet. The army has told us that they will give us another Rs 60 lakh. But we have not received that money yet. We don’t know when we will get it,” he said.