ANI Photo | “Agniveer Amritpal Singh committed suicide…”: Indian Army amid row over funeral without guard of honour

Amid controversy over not giving a guard of honour during the last rites of Amritpal Singh, an Agniveer recruit who died in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri sector on October 11, the Indian Army stated on Sunday that he committed suicide by shooting himself while on sentry duty.
In a post on ‘X’, the Army mentioned that Agniveer Amritpal Singh committed suicide by shooting himself while on sentry duty, and that “such cases are not entitled to Military Funerals as per the extant Army Order of 1967, in vogue.”
The Army said that there has been some misunderstanding and misrepresentation of facts related to the unfortunate death of Agniveer Amritpal Singh. Further to the initial information given out by White Knight Corps on 14 Oct 2023, the following additional details are shared to clear the perspective.
“It is a grave loss to the family and the Indian Army that Agniveer Amritpal Singh committed suicide by shooting himself while on sentry duty. In consonance with the existing practice, the mortal remains, after the conduct of medico-legal procedures, were transported under Army arrangements along with an escort party to the native place for the last rites,” the Army said in its statement.
“Armed Forces do not differentiate between the soldiers who joined prior to or after implementation of the Agnipath Scheme as regards entitled benefits and protocols. Unfortunate instances of death arising out of suicide/self-inflicted injury, irrespective of the type of entry, are accorded due respect by the Armed Forces along with deep and enduring empathy with the family. Such cases, however, are not entitled to Military Funerals as per the extant Army Order of 1967, in vogue. Policy on the subject has been consistently followed ever since, without any discrimination,” the Army said.
As per data held, there has been an average yearly loss ranging between 100 – 140 soldiers since 2001 where deaths occurred due to suicides/self-inflicted injuries, and Military Funeral in such cases was not accorded.
The disbursement of financial assistance/relief, as per entitlement, is given due priority including immediate financial relief for conduct of funerals, the Army statement said.
“Such unfortunate instances of loss bear heavily on the family and the Forces as a fraternity. During such times, it is important and incumbent on the society to uphold the respect, privacy and dignity of the family while empathising with them in their moment of grief,” the Army said.
“Armed Forces are known for adherence to the policies and protocols and will continue to do so as hithertofore. The Indian Army requests the support of all sections of the society while it follows its established protocols,” the Army added in its statement.
On October 14, the White Knight Corps had in a post on ‘X’ said, “In an unfortunate incident, Agniveer Amritpal Singh died while on sentry duty in Rajouri Sector, due to a self-inflicted gunshot injury.
It added that a Court of Inquiry would be held to ascertain more details on his death which is currently in progress. The death took place on October 11.
The mortal remains of the deceased, accompanied by one Junior Commissioned Officer and four Other Ranks, were transported in a Civil Ambulance hired by the Unit of the Agniveer, the White Knight Corps said adding that accompanying Army personnel also attended the last rites.
The White Knight Corps however said that since the cause of death was a self-inflicted injury, no guard of honour or military funeral was provided, in accordance with the existing policy.
“#IndianArmy offers deepest condolences to the bereaved family,” it added.
The Agniveer Scheme was announced in June 2022 for recruitment in the armed forces. The scheme is meant only for recruiting soldiers and not officers in the forces. The soldiers recruited under this Agneepath scheme are known as Agniveers.
Under the scheme, the three services are recruiting youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years and 21 years for four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. For 2022, the upper age limit was extended to 23 years

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