In response to a significant political controversy concerning the absence of a guard of honor at the funeral of an Agniveer recruit, the Indian Army released a statement on Sunday, shedding light on the circumstances of Amritpal Singh‘s passing and the reasons behind the absence of military honors at his funeral.
Recruit’s Tragic Suicide on Sentry Duty: The Army confirmed that Amritpal Singh, who served with the Army’s Jammu and Kashmir Rifles unit in the Poonch sector, died on October 11 due to suicide, as he shot himself while on sentry duty. The Army further clarified that military honors were not extended to his funeral because deaths resulting from self-inflicted injuries are not typically accorded such honors.
Uniform Treatment of All Recruits: Additionally, the Army emphasized its non-discriminatory stance regarding soldiers who joined the armed forces before or after the implementation of the Agnipath scheme. This scheme, introduced by the Indian government, involves the recruitment of soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the three services of the armed forces, and all recruits are hired for a four-year term.
Clarity on Funeral Protocol: The Army’s statement addressed what it described as “misunderstanding and misrepresentation” of facts surrounding Singh’s death. It conveyed that deaths resulting from suicide or self-inflicted injuries, regardless of the mode of recruitment, are treated with due respect and deep empathy for the family. The Army acknowledged the tragic loss and stated that Singh had taken his own life while on sentry duty.
Unfortunate Death of Agniveer Amritpal Singh on 11 Oct 2023.
There has been some misunderstanding and misrepresentation of facts related to unfortunate death of Agniveer Amritpal Singh.
Further to the initial information given out by White Knight Corps on 14 Oct 2023,… pic.twitter.com/6rhaOu3hN8
— ADG PI – INDIAN ARMY (@adgpi) October 15, 2023
Respectful Handling of Remains: The Army revealed that, by existing practices, Singh’s mortal remains were transported, under Army arrangements and with an escort party, to his native place for the last rites after medico-legal procedures were conducted.
Consistent Policy on Funeral Honours: The Army affirmed that there has been no discrimination in the policy for military funerals since 1967. According to this policy, cases of deaths due to suicides or self-inflicted injuries are not entitled to military funerals. The statement noted that, since 2001, there has been an annual average of 100-140 soldiers who have lost their lives in such circumstances, and military funerals were not granted in those instances.
Financial Assistance and Relief: The Army assured that the disbursement of financial assistance and relief, as per entitlement, is given a high priority, including immediate financial support for conducting funerals. The statement underscored the importance of respecting the privacy and dignity of the grieving family while empathizing with them during difficult times.
Adherence to Protocols: The Army concluded by stating that it adheres to established protocols and policies, and it urged society to support and uphold these protocols. The statement emphasized the Indian Army’s commitment to its principles and requested the support of all sections of society.
The White Knight Corps had previously stated that Singh passed away due to a self-inflicted gunshot injury while on sentry duty in the Rajouri sector, and a Court of Inquiry was initiated to determine additional details regarding the incident.
Singh’s death occurred on October 11, and his mortal remains were transported with military arrangements to the funeral, even though a guard of honor or military funeral was not provided due to the existing policy on self-inflicted injuries. The Agniveer Scheme, introduced in June 2022, was specifically intended for recruiting soldiers into the armed forces and does not include the recruitment of officers. Soldiers recruited through this scheme are referred to as Agniveers.