Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 20
The state government has initiated a process to enhance the monetary benefits payable to the next of kin of armed forces personnel killed in the line of duty from the present Rs 12 lakh to Rs 1 crore, a hike by around eight times.
A new policy being examined by the state’s Finance Department has recommended that the wife of martyrs from the state would be paid Rs 75 lakh and their parents would be entitled to Rs 25 lakh. In addition, a member of the aggrieved family would be eligible for a government job on compassionate grounds as per their qualification.
At present, the next of kin of martyrs are paid Rs 5 lakh as ex gratia and Rs 5 lakh in lieu of a plot of land while Rs 2 lakh is paid to parents in addition to a government job. There are still many cases from the previous wars such as the 1965 and 1971 wars, in which the next of kin have not received the promised plots. As the availability of land is an issue, this provision is being dropped from the new policy and a consolidated sum will be paid.
“The benefits are being revised to bring in parity with other states in the region and also to cater to inflation over the years,” a state government officer said. Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, for example pay Rs 1 crore to martyrs’ family, while Punjab and Rajasthan pay Rs 50 lakh.
The benefits were raised significantly after the Kargil conflict in 1999 when the ex gratia payable to martyrs’ families was just a few thousand rupees. “We had then instituted a policy and fixed Rs 2 lakh as ex gratia and Rs 5 lakh in lieu of a plot,” said Brig KS Kahlon (retd), former Director, Defence Services Welfare, Punjab. “There have been some amendments and additions to the policy subsequently but what is required is a structured policy at the national level. There are still some aspects of the policy such as job reservation in state government departments that are not being fully implemented,” he added.
Government sources said out of the armed forces operational casualties annually, on an average, 8-12 soldiers are from Punjab. The number of battle casualties in the Kargil conflict from Punjab was 57. Since the conflict, a total of 803 soldiers from the state have laid down their lives. Battle casualties include those killed in war or other notified operations such as Op Rakshak, Op Rhino, Op Hifazat, Op Falcon, Op Tuilaphal and Op Prakaram, all operations within Jammu and Kashmir or areas declared disturbed.
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