Can't award martyr status to anyone, says government

Weeks after home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde raised hopes of a martyr status for Sarabjit Singh, the government made it clear that there were no such plans. It categorically said that status of martyrs will not be accorded to those who lay down their lives in the line of duty.

Nearly 200 security personnel die fighting terrorists, insurgents and criminals across the country last year. Another 650 die in accidents on duty.

Police officers have been demanding a martyr status for cops killed in action for years after being told that there was a similar provision for defence personnel.

A home ministry official said the issue had been examined at various levels. "There is no provision under any government rule to notify martyrs," he said.

The only official document to refer to martyrs is the 1980-version of the freedom fighters pension scheme when it refers to people who died or were killed for participating in the "national movement for emancipation of India".

Besides Shinde who promised to look into the demand for declaring Sarabjit Singh a martyr, minister of state RPN Singh had mentioned last month the government's 'decision' to accord the status of 'martyr' to central paramilitary force personnel.

The bigger problem is persuading states to notify a decent amount as ex-gratia from the state exchequer besides the Rs 15 lakh from the central kitty.

 

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