Kerala Kaumudi Online
Tuesday, 23 July 2024 4.09 AM IST

What is compensation structure of Agniveers? Former IAF chief explains amid controversy


NEW DELHI: Former Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria said that the process of giving compensation to the kin of a martyred soldier usually takes two to three months. In an interview with a news agency, he said that the timeframe is due to comprehensive guidelines and also explained the steps in the compensation financing process and addressed concerns about the time required to transfer funds.

"That process of establishment follows certain guidelines. The post-mortem report should come, all the incident reports, the court of inquiry, and the report from the police--these are the major elements. This process needs to be completed. It is no different in the case of a normal soldier or an Agniveer. It is the same," he said.

Speaking on the timeframe, he said it usually takes two to three months to provide all the financial assistance to the next of kin of the martyred soldier and this is because of the necessary inquiries. Bhadauria denied the allegation that the families were kept in the dark regarding the compensation process, saying that the defence personnel of the unit is responsible for looking after the family of the Agniveer family and explaining the process properly.

"Every unit takes great care. They are at pains to be in touch with the family. They are always in touch with the family and they explain at length," he said.

"You must imagine a family that has gone through this trauma. There are a lot of people interacting and advising. So it is that which leads to a sense of confusion to get created," he added.

Bhadauria also pointed out that if a soldier dies, a good portion of the insurance amount is transferred to the next of kin.

"Whenever such an incident happens and somebody loses their life, in all cases--whether it is a battle casualty, physical casualty, attributable, or non-attributable--the insurance amount gets credited straightaway. In the case of a normal soldier, they have their policies. They normally credit 50 per cent straightaway within 24 or 48 hours, and then they meet the family and ask how they would like the rest, whether in their name or children's name," he said.

Bhadauria said that there will be no confusion about the next of kin of the soldier and this will be defined in advance. He said that financial guidance is being given to the family of the martyred soldier.

"The next of kin is clearly defined. There is no confusion. The money can only go to the account of the next of kin. There is a lot of financial guidance given to the family, which many of the soldiers' families would need. This is also provided by the insurance company through our officers and men," he said.

Sharing the feature of the insurance to be provided to all those enrolled under the Agnipath scheme, the former Air Force chief clarified that Agniveers do not have to contribute any share of their salary towards insurance like regular soldiers and the entire amount is paid by the central government.

"In the case of Agniveer in particular, the insurance is paid by the Government of India. The Agniveers don't even contribute. In the case of a regular soldier, every month roughly Rs 5000 is cut. You are into a contributory insurance scheme, in all three Services. Roughly Rs 5000 is charged for sepoys, which is Rs 60000 per year and you get insured. The insurance figures are a little different in the three services but of the order of around Rs 50-60 lakhs for sepoys. That is contributory. In the case of Agniveers, they do not contribute. Government of India pays the insurance, should something happen," Bhadauria said.

Amid the ongoing controversy over compensation for Agniveer Ajay Kumar's family, the Air Chief Marshal clarified the situation. He said that though a part of the compensation has already been disbursed, the rest will be settled once the necessary documents are completed. Addressing the controversies related to the financial assistance, he explained the current status of disbursement and steps required to finalize the ex-gratia funds.

"I think the recent controversy has been around financial aid or whatever payments have been made, whether they have been made or not. The Army has released a media brief stating that Rs 98.39 lakh have been paid. This is primarily the insurance from the Government of India, and there is a DSP account with the bank which ensures that the payment of Rs 50 lakh and Rs 48 lakh from the Government of India also goes through. That has already been cleared," the Retired Air Chief Marshal said.

Bhadauria said that unless the police report comes and it is decided that the cause was 'battle casualty', ex-gratia cannot be paid from central funds.

"You have to wait for the paperwork to be over for all the final settlement of account that takes place. For that, one of the critical things is the police report. Based on that final thing...whether it is battle casualty attributable unless the attributability comes, the ex gratia cannot be paid from the central welfare fund. That is a complete fund. The Ministry of Defence does it. It is also dependent on the reports that come from the police. In this case, the Jammu and Kashmir Police will send its report. I think those actions should have been completed. It was in the final stages as I knew last week," the Retired Air Chief Marshall said.

Bhadauria said the family of Agniveer Ajay Kumar will get an additional Rs 67 lakh and his next-of-kin will get a total of Rs 1.65 crore.

"Some more money will be transferred. That will be the ex-gratia from the Army central welfare fund and his balance of payment for the unserved portion and the Seva Nidhi package. So over Rs 67 odd lakhs further will go. So total emoluments that his next-of-kin will get is of the order of Rs 1.65 crores. So these are the hard facts," he said.

Agniveer Ajay Kumar was killed in a landmine blast near the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district. The confusion over the financial compensation given to the family of the deceased Agniveer has been the cause of a political battle between the ruling party and the opposition.

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