The Congress Sunday slammed the Narendra Modi government over the new disability pension rules for the armed forces personnel, terming it a "surgical strike" on the army and the honour of the soldiers.
The notification on the 'Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023', was prima facie "illegal" and will be challenged, said Col (retd) Rohit Chaudhary, the chairman of the Congress' ex-servicemen department along with some armed forces veterans.
He said the "disability" element from the pension was being abolished and "impairment relief" has been introduced instead. Earlier, the disability pension was exempted from the income tax but now after making it "compensation" it will be brought under the income tax net, he said.
"This will no longer be a pension but an 'ex gratia' amount, which will be given monthly. It is completely against the functioning of the army," Chaudhary said.
He said the party has taken the lead in challenging the new rules after taking various veterans' and ex-servicemen organisations into confidence. The party will use all means and may move the Supreme Court against it, he said.
"The notification on the Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023, was issued on September 21. This compromises the security of the country. It seems that this is illegal and the veteran organisations strongly oppose it," Col (retd) Rohit Chaudhary said at a press conference.
"The Modi government has conducted a very serious surgical strike on the country's army. This surgical strike has been done on the honour of the soldiers standing on the border," he alleged.
He said it was surprising why PM Modi wanted to resort to this "surgical strike" as it had minimum financial implications of just Rs 4,000 crore. "While the BJP government waived lakhs of crores of debts of crony industrialists, it is trying to save Rs 4,000 crore by stopping the disability benefit of soldiers," he alleged.
Accusing the prime minister of resorting to "fake nationalism", the army veteran alleged the BJP government had "consistently taken steps to the disadvantage of the defence forces".
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "The new disability pension rules for armed forces is a surgical strike by the Modi government on our nation's army and the jawans' honour." He said the notification of the Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023 shows how this policy appears to be "illegal and untenable and compromises the security of the country".
"Obviously, the veteran organisations have rejected it outright and will challenge it in the Supreme Court," Ramesh said on X.
Chaudhary claimed that the ordnance factories and the Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) were gradually being privatised. Similarly, 62 Cantonment Boards across the country were being abolished, he alleged.
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