Agniveer Death: Punjab Govt To Raise ‘Strong Objection’ With Centre Amid Row Over Last Rites

The absence of a guard of honour during the last rites of Agniveer Amritpal Singh, who lost his life in Jammu and Kashmir on October 11, has stirred controversy with opposition parties in Punjab taking an exception to it. While the Army, in a statement, cited Singh’s cause of death as a self-inflicted gunshot wound as a reason for why his last rites took place without military honours, opposition figures and the Punjab Chief Minister have expressed dismay over the same.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann stated that his government will protest this matter with the Union government. He also confirmed that the state will honour the soldier’s sacrifice by providing a compensation of Rs 1 crore to Singh’s family in accordance with the state policy.

“Whatever may be the policy of the army regarding the martyrdom of Shaheed Amritpal Singh, but the policy of the Punjab government will remain the same as for every martyr.. Shaheed Amritpal Singh is a martyr of the country. Strong objection will also be raised with the Central Govt,” he stated.

Agniveer Amritpal Singh, who served with a battalion of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in the Poonch sector, was laid to rest on Friday in his native village in Punjab’s Mansa district.

Former Union Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, expressed shock at Singh’s cremation without an Army guard of honour. She has appealed to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to intervene in the matter. 

“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! 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 posted on X.

Earlier in the day, the Army issued a statement, explaining that Amritpal Singh lost his life while on sentry duty in the Rajouri Sector due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A court of inquiry is underway to determine further details. 

The mortal remains of Singh were transported in a civilian ambulance, hired by the Agniveer unit, along with a junior commissioned officer and four other ranks. The Army emphasised that due to the self-inflicted nature of the injury, no guard of honour or military funeral was provided, in accordance with established policy.

Punjab Congress chief, Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, expressed deep disappointment terming the matter as “shameful.”

“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? 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!” he wrote on X.

Sukhbir Singh Badal, the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal, criticised Punjab’s Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for not sending a state-level dignitary to provide a fitting farewell to the fallen soldier. 

“CM 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,” he stated.

Bikram Singh Majithia, another prominent SAD leader, called for the discontinuation of the Agniveer scheme and called for the regularisation of all soldiers recruited under the program. 


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