Kirti Chakra awardee’s mother meets Rahul Gandhi, hopes he ‘does something’ about Agnipath scheme

Kirti Chakra awardee’s mother meets Rahul Gandhi, hopes he ‘does something’ about Agnipath scheme

Lucknow: The parents of Kirti Chakra awardee, late Captain Anshuman Singh, met Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi, and said that they were confident that he would do something about the Agnipath scheme issue.

The soldier’s mother and father, Manju Singh and Ravi Pratap Singh, met Gandhi in Raebareli early Tuesday.

The MP is on his first visit to Raebareli — the constituency that he decided to retain over Wayanad — after assuming the role of the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Captain Anshuman, who belonged to Deoria in Uttar Pradesh, was posthumously honoured with the Kirti Chakra, India’s second-highest peacetime gallantry award. President Droupadi Murmu presented the award to his widow Smriti Singh and mother Manju Singh at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on 5 July.

The soldier, who was his parents’ eldest son, was posted as a medical officer in the Siachen Glacier area, and died after suffering severe burns and injuries in a fire accident in July last year. According to news reports, Captain Anshuman rescued fellow Army officers stuck in a fibreglass hut, but lost his life after getting trapped, when the fire spread to a medical investigation shelter.

Also Read: BJP’s reports pinpoint Agnipath as factor in LS setbacks across states, cadres want review of scheme


‘Not right at all’

Manju, the soldier’s mother, spoke to the media after the meeting with Gandhi, and said that the facilities that her family had received after her son’s death were all in accordance with the rules of the Army.

However, she criticised the government’s Agnipath scheme, which stipulates a four-year military service with an extension option of four additional years.Only 25 percent of Agniveers are selected to join as permanent soldiers in the Armed Forces.

“Whatever is happening is in accordance with the rights of a mother as per the rules of the Army. But in future, no change, which could affect the parents (of defence personnel), should be made,” Manju said.

She added, “It (Agnipath scheme) is not right at all. I spoke about this (with Gandhi), because my husband retired from the Army, and my son was with the Army too. It should not be like this…this four-year rule and no pension to them (Agniveers). All facilities should be equal for everyone.”

“If sahab (Gandhi) gets that position in future, or even if he continues to be in the Opposition, I hope he does something. I got a positive signal,” she told reporters.

About her meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Manju said that it was a positive interaction, too.

“Since last year, when my son was martyred, we get respect wherever we go. It’s not that we are denied what we want. Yogi ji and Rajnath ji have been positive,” she said.

Manju said that she had spotted Gandhi at the Rashtrapati Bhawan during the 5 July ceremony, and was assured of a meeting with him.

“I was emotional that day, and said that I wanted to speak to him (Gandhi), because I follow all the news and listened to his speech in the Parliament. I felt that if he was right in front of me, I should speak to him. I was told that he didn’t have time then, but was asked to share my number,” she recalled.

Gandhi has been repeatedly raising the Agnipath issue in the Parliament. The scheme had found mentions in his first speech as the LoP, some parts of which were removed from Parliament records.

Speaking to the media, Manju requested the government “to ensure that there aren’t two different types of military system”.

“I hope that the government listens to Rahul Gandhi ji’s speech and follows it. I will request the government to consider that the military should not be divided into two different systems,” she said.

About the four-year tenure rule under Agnipath scheme, she said, “If a child (soldier) leaves after four years, what will he do? He will be at a loss mentally and physically. One has to be very strong to become an Army man. If the service ends in four years, there will be a break in his education. This will weaken him, and he won’t be able to prepare for anything in future.”

Gandhi’s Raebareli visit

The Congress MP landed at the Lucknow airport and reached Raebareli via road early Tuesday. He met a delegation of lawyers and doctors at the Bhuemau guest house. He also met former MLAs, city presidents, block presidents and other office bearers of the Congress party.

“Workers informed Rahul ji that paper leak, unemployment and inflation were the biggest issues for the public, along with the concerns of employees, and that old pensioners are feeling a tax burden,” an Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee leader said.

Gandhi also paid his respects at the Shaheed Smarak, dedicated to those who had lost their lives in the 1921 farmer massacre in Raebareli. He also visited the Raebareli AIIMS, and interacted with patients there.

(Edited by Mannat Chugh)

Also Read: ‘You’ve suffered, now enough is enough’ — Rahul Gandhi says BJP set to meet Ayodhya fate in Gujarat


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