Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi, speaks through a video message.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi, speaks through a video message. PTI

NEW DELHI: Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh “lied” in Parliament over the issue of compensation to families of martyred Agniveers and demanded an apology. The Army on Wednesday refuted Gandhi’s claim and said the Agniveer’s family had been paid Rs 98 lakh.

The Congress leader also shared a video on X which allegedly features the father of a deceased Agniveer. He stated that Rajnath Singh had claimed that a compensation of Rs 1 crore had been paid to the kin of the martyred Agniveers, but his family had not received any help.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shared the video message posted by her brother and also accused the BJP of “insulting the sacrifice of families” who gave up their sons for the country. In his video, Rahul Gandhi said that in his speech in Parliament he had said that protecting 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 in the video.

He then referred to the alleged statement made by the father of an Agniveer martyr, Ajay Singh.

According to Ajay Singh’s father, Rajnath Singh had stated that the families of the martyrs had been given compensation of Rs 1 crore, but his family itself had not received any help.

“Rahul Gandhi raises 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,” he said.

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

Gandhi’s fresh attack came after Rajnath Singh refuted the Leader of the Opposition’s claims in the Lok Sabha about Agnipath’s military recruitment plan. Singh said the plan was implemented after seeking suggestions from 158 organisations.

The Congress leader on Monday criticised the Agnipath plan for short-term military recruitment, saying the government is not even giving them the status of “shaheed” (martyr) and their families are not being compensated if they die.

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

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.

The Defence Minister intervened: “I would humbly request the Leader of the Opposition not to try to mislead Parliament.

As for the Agniveer plan, there was direct contact with many people, 158 organizations. Their suggestions were taken into account and then the Agniveer plan was created. This plan was created after much thought.”

“And I also want to make it clear that these kinds of plans are operational in many countries. It is in the US, it is in the UK. People there have no objection to it. Without understanding the Agniveer plan, without getting the right information about it… it cannot be considered appropriate to mislead the House in this way,” the minister added.

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

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shared the video of Rahul Gandhi and said the BJP government had “lied” in Parliament when he raised Agniveer’s issue with the Opposition.

“The BJP is insulting the martyrdom of the families who sacrificed their sons for the country by telling lies.

Is this BJP’s nationalism? The PM should apologise to the public for lying to the country and insulting the martyrs,” she said in a Hindi message on X.

However, the army refuted the claim and said Agniveer’s family had received Rs 98 lakh.

Taking to X, Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence, wrote: “Certain reports on social media have suggested that no compensation has been paid to the next of kin of Agniveer Ajay Kumar who lost his life in the line of duty. Out of the total amount due, the family of Agniveer Ajay has already received Rs 98.39 lakh. Ex-Gratia and other benefits worth approximately Rs 67 lakhs, as applicable under the provisions of the Agniveer Scheme, will be paid in the final settlement after due police verification. The total amount will be approximately Rs 1.65 Crore.”

The message said that the Indian Army respects the supreme sacrifice of Agniveer Ajay Kumar, whose last rites were performed with full military honours.