The Indian Army on Sunday said Agniveer Amritpal Singh committed suicide by shooting himself while on sentry duty and that military honours were not extended to his funeral as deaths arising out of self-inflicted injuries are not given such honours.
The Army asserted that it does not differentiate between soldiers based on whether they joined the force prior to or after the implementation of the Agnipath scheme. There were allegations that military honours were not extended to Singh’s funeral as he was an Agniveer soldier.
The Army’s Nagrota-headquartered White Knight Corps on Saturday said that Singh died while on sentry duty in the Rajouri sector due to a self-inflicted gunshot injury.
In a statement on Sunday night, the Army said there had been some “misunderstanding and misrepresentation” of facts related to the unfortunate death of Singh.
“It is a grave loss to the family and the Indian Army that Agniveer Amritpal Singh committed suicide by shooting himself while on sentry duty,” the Army said.
“In consonance with the existing practice, the mortal remains, after the conduct of medico-legal procedures, were transported under Army arrangements along with an escort party to his native place for the last rites,” it said.
The Army said the Armed Forces do not differentiate between the soldiers who joined prior to or after the implementation of the Agnipath scheme as regards entitled benefits and protocols.
“Unfortunate instances of death arising out of suicide/self-inflicted injury, irrespective of the type of entry, are accorded due respect by the Armed Forces along with deep and enduring empathy with the family,” it said.
“Such cases, however, are not entitled to military funerals as per the extant Army Order of 1967, in vogue. Policy on the subject has been consistently followed ever since, without any discrimination,” it said.
“As per data held, there has been an average yearly loss ranging between 100-140 soldiers since 2001 where deaths occurred due to suicides/self-inflicted injuries, and a military funeral in such cases was not accorded,” the Army said.
It said the disbursement of financial assistance and relief as per entitlement is given due priority, including immediate financial relief for conducting funerals.
“Such unfortunate instances of loss bear heavy on the family and the Forces as a fraternity. During such times, it is important and incumbent on society to uphold the respect, privacy and dignity of the family while empathising with them in their moment of grief,” the Army said.
“Armed Forces are known for adherence to the policies and protocols and will continue to do so as hithertofore. The Indian Army requests support of all sections of society while it follows its established protocols,” it said.