Rahul Gandhi (Photo: @RahulGandhi X account)

New Delhi: The Indian Army on Wednesday rejected Rahul Gandhi’s claim that no compensation has been paid to the families of Agniveer Ajay Kumar, who lost his life in the line of duty. According to the army, his family has already been paid Rs 98.39 lakh of the due amount.

The total amount will be around Rs 1.65 crore, said the ‘clarification’ issued after Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi shared a video on his X account in which Ajay’s father allegedly stated that they had not received any money.

Raising Ajay’s case, Gandhi alleged in his message that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had “lied” in Parliament on the issue of compensation to families of Agniveers martyrs and demanded an apology for the matter.

Singh, who intervened when Gandhi was speaking on the motion of thanks to the President in the Lok Sabha, said on Monday that an Agniveer who lays down his life in the line of duty will be given a compensation of Rs 1 crore.

The minister was reacting to this after Gandhi criticised the Agnipath plan. According to him, the government does not even give the Agniveers the status of ‘shaheed’ (martyr) and their families do not get compensation if they die.

In a post on ‘X’, the Army’s Additional Directorate General of Public Information shared: “Certain social media posts have revealed that no compensation has been paid to the next of kin of Agniveer Kumar, who lost his life in the line of duty.”

“It is stressed that the Indian Army honours the supreme sacrifice of Agniveer Ajay Kumar. The last rites were performed with full military honours. Out of the total amount due, the family of Agniveer Ajay has already received Rs 98.39 lakhs,” the Army said in the post.

“Volunteer and other benefits worth approximately Rs 67 lakh, as applicable under the provisions of the Agniveer Scheme, will be disbursed at the time of final settlement, soon after the requisite police check.

“Total amount will be around Rs 1.65 cr. It is reiterated that emoluments due to a fallen hero be paid expeditiously to the next of kin of deceased soldiers including Agniveers. #IndianArmy,” it added.

Raksha Mantri’s office later posted on X: “Indian Army stands for the welfare of Agniveers!” and shared ADGPI’s post.

According to officials, the total amount that has to be paid eventually includes Rs 48 lakh as insurance from the Government of India; Rs 50 lakh as insurance from financial institutions under an MoU; Rs 39,000 additional amount. All this has been paid in the case of Agniveer Ajay.

It also includes an ex gratia amount of Rs 44 lakh; Army welfare fund of Rs 8 lakh. Balance of payment till completion of his tenure stands at Rs 13 lakh (approximately) and Seva Nidhi Rs 2.3 lakh. A total of 67.3 lakh will be paid after due process, they said.

The Agnipath programme, announced on June 14, 2022, envisages the recruitment of youth between the age group of 17 and a half years and 21 for only four years, with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for another 15 years. The government raised the upper age limit to 23 later that year.

Rahul Gandhi said in his video message on Wednesday that he had stated in his speech in Parliament that protection of truth is the basis of every religion.

“In response, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in front of the photo of Lord Shiva, lied to the country, the armed forces and Agniveers about compensation,” Gandhi said.

He referred to Ajay’s father’s alleged statement that Rajnath Singh had said that families of martyrs had been given compensation of Rs 1 crore, but his family itself had not received any such help.

Gandhi said the Defence Minister had “lied” to martyr Ajay’s family, the armed forces and the country’s youth and that he should apologise to them.

The minister had asked Gandhi not to mislead Parliament and requested Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to quash the former Congress leader’s allegations about the Agnipath scheme.

Intervening, the Defence Minister had said, “I would humbly request the Leader of the Opposition not to mislead the Parliament. With regard to the Agniveer plan, direct contact was made with many people, 158 organisations, their suggestions were taken, and then this Agniveer plan was submitted. This plan was submitted after much thought.”

After Singh’s refutation, Gandhi said, “Rajnath Singh has an opinion and I have an opinion, but Agnivers know the truth. Agnivers know what they have to go through.”

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shared the video of Rahul Gandhi and said the BJP government had “lied” in Parliament when he raised the Agniveer issue from the opposition party.

“The BJP is insulting the sacrifice of the families who gave up their sons for the country by telling lies. Is this the nationalism of the BJP? The Prime Minister should apologise to the public for lying to the country and insulting the martyrs,” she said in a message in Hindi on X. PTI