Can you discriminate between those dying to protect the nation?

Failure to enunciate clear cut transparent compensation norms for slain police and defence personnel has led to a piquant situation with contrasting levels of ex-gratia payment to their families.

By ZRG | Last Updated: Jun 20, 2014, 13:34 PM IST

Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

Failure to enunciate clear cut transparent compensation norms for slain police and defence personnel has led to a piquant situation with contrasting levels of ex-gratia payment to their families. The lack of clarity over ‘martyr’ tag has added to woes of families of forces killed in action.

A stark contrast can be seen in the cases of Delhi Traffic Police constable Mana Ram and UP Police constables Dinesh Pratap Singh and Giriraj Kishore Gujjar. All of them died on duty, but the amount of compensation given by their respective states varied.

The family of Mana Ram, who was run over by three people in the national capital on June 14, was given a compensation of Rs 1 crore by Delhi’s Lt Governor, Najeeb Jung. On the other hand, UP Police constables were killed on June 15 while chasing a group of miscreants in Ramgarh of Firozabad district. The state government, however, announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 20 lakhs to their family members.
NO COMMON BENCHMARK

The differences in payouts have raised a serious debate over uniformity in compensation amounts. Be it a policeman or armed forces personnel, there is no parity in the relief amount given to their families thereby questioning the government’s policy on compensation.

During last year’s Uttarakhand flood tragedy a row arose over ‘martyr’ tag being denied to the ITBP personnel killed there. The IAF personnel, however, were granted ‘martyr’ status.

After the sixth pay commission, the ex-gratia for Defence personnel was set between Rs 10 lakhs and Rs 20 lakhs. The upper limit of the amount is given when death occurs during enemy action in international war or engagements similar to war.

Lamenting the lack of a common benchmark, Prakash Singh, former director general of police of UP, opines, “How can the government announce Rs 1 crore to one policeman and Rs 2 lakhs to others?”

TR Kakkar, police commissioner of Delhi between April 1997 and May 1998, is in agreement and calls for “an upper limit to be fixed for the ex-gratia payments.”
STATE POLICIES DIFFER

In Delhi Police, the maximum amount given as relief to the family of the deceased is Rs 20 lakhs. Delhi Police Martyr Fund is a voluntary scheme and only those (police personnel) who want to be part of it need to contribute and would be benefitted.

Last year UP government paid about of Rs 50 lakhs to the family of deceased DSP Zia-ul-Haq killed by an angry mob in Pratapgarh. However, in January 2013, the state government announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakhs to the family of martyred soldier Hemraj.

In comparison, a much lesser compensation of Rs 10 lakhs was announced in August 2013 by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the family of each of the four soldiers who were killed in an ambush by Pakistani forces along the Line of Control in J&K.

Haryana has a completely different policy. In January 2014, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced that a family member of soldiers of Armed Forces and Paramilitary Forces, who were natives of Haryana, and Police Personnel of the state who achieve martyrdom, will be given a job on compensatory grounds, besides a financial assistance of Rs 10 lakhs.

In paramilitary forces, the amount varies from one state to other. While Himachal Pradesh government gives Rs 1 lakh to the dependents of personnel belong to the state, Madhya Pradesh government pays ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakhs.

Arguing against “politicisation” of compensation, ex top cop Kiran Bedi has a solution on offer for consistency. “The home ministry immediately needs to create a committee of five members that should take a call on compensation. The committee should have a representative from the concerned department and a couple of citizens to reach a consensus in the matter.” Ex DGP Singh suggests that the home ministry devote one of its units for deciding on the compensations amount.