The opposition parties in Punjab on Saturday expressed shock over the Army not giving a guard of honour during the last rites of Agniveer Amritpal Singh who died in Jammu and Kashmir on October 11. However, the Army, in a statement, said since Singh’s cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot injury, no guard of honour or military funeral was provided, in accordance with the existing policy.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann too said his government will raise a strong objection with the Centre over this matter.
Mr Mann, in a post on X, further said whatever the army has the policy regarding the martyrdom of Singh, but his government’s policy will remain the same for a martyr and will give ? 1 crore to the family of the soldier as per the state policy, saying Amritpal Singh is a martyr of the country.
Amritpal Singh, who was serving with a battalion of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in the Poonch sector, was cremated on Friday at his native village in Punjab’s Mansa district.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said she was shocked to learn that Singh was cremated without the army guard of honour.
She sought intervention from Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the matter, seeking necessary directions to accord military honours to all martyred soldiers.
“Shocked to learn that Agniveer Amritpal Singh, who was martyred in the line of duty in Poonch in J-K was cremated without an Army guard of honour & even his body was brought to his native village in Mansa in a private ambulance by his family!,” Ms Badal posted on X “It is learnt that this happened because Amritpal was an #Agniveer. We must accord due respect to all our soldiers. Request Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to issue directions to accord military honours to all martyred soldiers,” she said.
The Army, in the statement, on Saturday said in an unfortunate incident, Agniveer Amritpal Singh died while on sentry duty in Rajouri Sector, due to a self-inflicted gunshot injury. A court of inquiry to ascertain more details is in progress.
Body of Singh, accompanied by a junior commissioned officer and four other ranks, were transported in a civil ambulance hired by the unit of the Agniveer, said the statement, adding that accompanying army personnel also attended the last rites.
“The cause of death being a self-inflicted injury, no guard of honour or military funeral was provided, in accordance with the existing policy,” it said.
Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring said, “This is a sad day for our country as this (soldier) who was recruited under the Agniveer scheme was sent back home in a private ambulance and not given any guard of honour by the @adgpi.” “Does being an Agniveer mean that their lives don’t matter as much,” he asked.
“The bereaved family had to request the local Punjab Police to give our young boy a guard of honour. Is this why @BJP4India started this policy? Is this how we will treat our Agniveers, different from the rest of our soldiers? Does the Central Government have any answers for this inhuman treatment of our young martyr? Shameful!,” Warring wrote on X.
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal attacked the Bhagwant Mann government, saying he was shocked by the refusal of the chief minister to send any state-level dignitary to give a befitting farewell to the young martyr.
“Chief Minister must not hide behind the excuse of central government policies as nothing stops the state government from giving honour to the martyr and from standing by his family the most magnanimous way at this painful juncture. This is what S. Parkash Singh Ji Badal would have immediately done,” Badal posted on X.
SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia demanded the scrapping of the Agniveer scheme and sought regularisation of all soldiers recruited under it till date.