By Arun Srivastava
No conscientious citizen can gloss over the ill treatment meted to the CRPF jawan Mujahid Khan, who died fighting militants in Jammu on Monday. He was offered an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh by the NDA government of Bihar, but intriguingly, gunner Kishore Kumar Munna, who was injured in Pakistani shelling on the Line of Control in Kashmir on February 4 and died on February 11, was given Rs 11 lakh. Any one raising the issue of paying less to Mujahid Khan would be dubbed as the anti-national.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Modi, when he was the opposition leader, had attacked the Bihar government for giving Rs 11 lakh in ex-gratia to those who sacrificed their lives in the Uri terror attack by calling the amount meagre. If that was meagre in those days, how could Rs 5 lakh be paid now?
Mujahid’s eldest brother Chand Khan, who reached is village at Piro in Bhojpur district from Dubai on Wednesday, refused to accept the cheque of Rs 5 lakh saying the money was not adequate. “I fail to fathom why there is discrimination in payment of ex-gratia,” he said. This approach of Nitish government has tremendously harmed the secular character of the Indian state.
It was also shameful that none of the ministers or ruling party legislators was present at the burial of Mujahid. Only opposition leaders, including Ara MLA Mohammad Nawaz Alam, Jagdishpur MLA Ram Vishun Singh, Tarari MLA Sudama Prasad and MLC Radha Charan Seth, laid wreaths on his coffin. Slogans like “Pakistan murdabad” were raised. In fact, Mohammad Imtiyaz Khan, elder brother of Mujahid blurted out; “He was not killed while taking on liquor smugglers, he embraced death for the country. Neither any minister nor any legislator of the ruling alliance bothered to pay tribute to the 25-year-old, who lost his life fighting terrorists”.
According to government provisions, the next of kin of a slain paramilitary jawan is to be paid ex-gratia of only Rs 5 lakh. In fact, riding on the nationwide wave of solidarity and sympathy for soldiers killed along the border in the Uri attack, the Bihar government on Nov 8 ,2016 had raised the exgratia amount payable from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 11 lakh. The major reason for the raise was that three of the 20 Indian soldiers killed in the attack by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists had hailed from Bihar..
In fact, the Bhojpur district magistrate should have adopted a pragmatic approach and acted based on the amended provisions. His action poorly reflects on the functioning of the bureaucracy. While the government had already paid an amount of Rs 11 lakh as ex-gratia, how could he approach the family of some other martyrs with Rs 5 lakh? His response was that he was waiting for the government’s instruction.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar should have shown sensitivity towards the sacrifice of the CRPF jawan. Former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had more than doubled the compensation for widows and families of the soldiers dying while fighting for the nation. It was in 1998 that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government had for the first time revised the compensation for the families of the martyrs. Meanwhile, according to a government circular “for deaths occurring due to accidents in the course of performance of duties, the compensation has been increased from the existing Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.” The amount was to be given to the kin of the soldier dying in any kind of accidents while performing their duties.
The recent incident has also exposed double standards. Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav slammed the government for insulting the slain CRPF jawan and alleged that Nitish had insulted his sacrifice by not sending any of his cabinet ministers to the jawan’s last journey. Incidentally he had also not sent anyone to Khagaria from where army soldier Kishore Kumar Munna, who died in Pakistan shelling along the LoC in Shahpur sector of Poonch. “Nitish ji has nothing to do with our army soldiers. It is not a new thing because he has remained insensitive to the army. His earlier minister, Bhim Singh, had issued a statement saying people join the army to die,” Tejashwi said. (IPA Service)