The Army in a statement on Wednesday evening clarified that the family of Agniveer Ajay Kumar received Rs 98.39 lakh within hours of Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that Rajnath Singh had “lied” to Parliament about a compensation of Rs 1 crore to be paid to the family.

The 23-year-old was killed on January 18 in a landmine explosion near the Line of Control in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It has emerged from certain social media posts that no compensation has been paid to the bereaved families of Agniveer Ajay Kumar, who lost his life in the line of duty,” the Army said in a post on X, stressing that it appreciates Agniveer’s immense sacrifice.

“The last rites were performed with full military honours. Out of the total amount due, Rs 98.39 lakhs has already been paid to the family of Agniveer Ajay. Ex – Gratia and other benefits worth approximately 67 lakhs, as applicable under the provisions of Agniveer scheme, will be paid in the final settlement soon after the due police verification. The total amount will be approximately Rs 1.65 Cr,” the Army added.

Rajnath Singh’s office reposted the Army’s clarification, saying, “The Indian Army is committed to the welfare of the Agniviers.”

Sources told NDTV that Rs 98 lakh was paid to the Agniveer family by the end of June.

The clarification came within two hours of a video message from Rahul Gandhi, in which he reiterated that no compensation had been paid to the family of Agniveer Ajay Kumar.

“Protection of truth is the basis of every religion. But Defence Minister Rajnath Singh lied in Parliament about the help provided to the family of martyred Agniveer. Agniveer Ajay Singh’s father himself has told the truth about their lies. The Defence Minister should apologise to Parliament, the country, the army and the family of Agniveer Ajay Singh ji,” said Mr Gandhi, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, sitting next to a photograph of Lord Shiva.

The Agnipath programme, launched in 2022, provides for short-term induction of personnel into the armed forces with the aim of reducing the age profile of the three services. Those recruited under the programme are called Agniveers.

In the same video, Ajay Singh’s father stated that “their family had not received any compensation” from the central government, which contradicts the defence minister’s statement.

“Rahul Gandhi is raising our voice in Parliament that families of martyrs should be given all necessary help. Agniveer recruitment should be stopped and regular recruitment should be restored,” Agniveer’s father said.

Rahul Gandhi with Agniveer Ajay Kumar’s family

Under current provisions, families of Agniveers who die in the line of duty are not eligible for regular benefits such as pension. A parliamentary panel in February had recommended that families of Agniveers who die in the line of duty should be given the same benefits as regular military personnel.

Earlier on Monday, Rajnath Singh objected to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s remarks in the Lok Sabha on the Agniveer scheme. He said that financial assistance of Rs 1 crore will be given to the family of an Agniveer who dies in the line of duty or during a war.

“You are creating a divide among soldiers. One gets the name of a martyr, the other does not (the Agniveer). One gets the pension, the other does not (the Agniveer). An Agniveer is not called a jawan. And then you call yourself a patriot,” Mr Gandhi said, suggesting that there are two classes of soldiers.

The Ministries of Defense and Interior have emphasized over the years that the term “martyr” is not used officially.

Mr Singh accused Mr Gandhi of trying to mislead the House by making incorrect statements.

“He (Rahul Gandhi) should not try to mislead the House by making wrong statements. Financial assistance of Rs one crore is being given to the family of Agniveer who sacrificed his life while protecting our borders or during war,” the Defence Minister said.

That is not true, sir; no sir (I am not wrong, sir; I am not wrong, sir),” Mr. Gandhi protested to the Chairman.

Mr Gandhi used both the word compensation and pension in his speech and when Mr Singh replied, he used the word compensation.

“As far as the Agniveer plan is concerned, there was direct communication with many people, 158 organisations, their suggestions were taken, and then this Agniveer plan came into being. This plan came into being after a lot of thought,” Mr Singh said.

The Centre believes that a good financial package for Agniveers at the end of their four-year service will give them a good start, besides the unique experience of working in the Armed Forces.

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