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Gujarat Hikes Compensation For Soldiers Killed In Line Of Duty

Gujarat Hikes Compensation For Soldiers Killed In Line Of Duty

The new compensation of Rs 1 crore is in line with the demands of ex-servicemen

Ahmedabad:

The Gujarat government on Monday announced a significant hike in compensation given to the family of soldiers killed in the line of duty, and in cash prizes offered to gallantry medal winners in an apparent bid to placate the agitating ex-servicemen in the state.

The compensation given to the wife or family of a soldier who has died in the line of duty has been increased from the current Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore, said an official release, which informed the decision was taken by Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel.

The announcement came hours after 500 ex-servicemen from Gujarat gathered in Gandhinagar in the morning to agitate for their long-pending demands, including higher compensation for families of the soldiers.

Reacting to the decision, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal, who is on a Gujarat visit, said the state government’s move came days after he made a similar promise to the protesting ex-servicemen during his visit to the state two months back.

Kejriwal demanded that the Gujarat government cover the policemen as he had done in Delhi. He also demanded the Gujarat government pay compensation to family of soldiers from the state killed in the line of duty in the last five years “to prove to the public that the government is genuinely willing to do so and not just because the Assembly elections are around the corner”.

“If the state government fails to do so, we will start paying after forming a government,” Kejriwal said.

Meanwhile, though the new compensation of Rs 1 crore is in line with the demands of ex-servicemen, they want the government to accept all their 14 demands and issue a Government Resolution (GR).

“We are not aware of such an announcement by the government. We will believe it only when a minister approaches us and tells us what exactly the government has decided on our demands. We want the government to issue a GR. We will not stop our agitation until all our demands are met,” said Jitendra Nimavat, president of Gujarat’s Ex-Armymen Union.

The release issued by the state government also informed the monthly compensation of Rs 1,000 currently given to soldiers’ widow has been increased to Rs 5,000. Similarly, each child of a the soldier, with a maximum of two children, would now get monthly assistance of Rs 5,000 instead of Rs 500 till they finish their studies or turn 25 years of age.

The state government currently pays Rs 50,000 as one-time compensation and monthly assistance of Rs 500 to each parent of an unmarried soldier. Now, parents would get Rs 5 lakh as one-time compensation and Rs 5,000 as monthly assistance for each of them, said the release.

The cash prize for the recipient of Param Vir Chakra, the highest military award, has been hiked from Rs 22,500 to Rs 1 crore, while an Ashok Chakra awardee will get Rs 1 crore from the state government instead of Rs 20,000, it said.

The release said a high-level committee of IAS officers would discuss other demands of ex-servicemen and submit their report to the state government for final decision.

Former soldiers of Gujarat have been holding protests at regular intervals to get the government to accept their long-pending demands. They had held a rally from Ahmednagar to Gandhinagar in June.

Other major demands include pension for the family, government job to one member of the family of each soldier, and strict implementation of reservations in government jobs from class 1 to 4 for retired Army personnel.

The agitators also want a martyrs’ memorial in Gandhinagar, agricultural land for retired army men as per rules, priority while issuing or renewing a gun licence, and removal of contract system in jobs offered to former army personnel.

The ex-servicemen have also demanded a full waiver of professional tax, the quota for their children in higher education and priority for their work in government offices.

Addressing a press conference in Ahmedabad, Kejriwal alleged the Gujarat government didn’t intend to pay the compensation it had promised earlier.

“The promise to pay (kin of ex-servicemen) Rs 1 lakh remained only on papers. I request the Gujarat government to offer Rs 1 crore to each of the families of soldiers martyred in the last five years so that people will trust you. If the state government fails to do so, we will start paying after forming a government,” he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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