The Ministry of Defence does not have the definition of a “martyr” in its official records. This has been revealed by the Ministry in an RTI reply to The Sunday Guardian. Army veterans have raised concern over the issue and have been asking the government to define a “martyr” in official terms.
In the RTI reply, the Ministry of Defence has said that the classification of casualty in the Indian Army is defined as “Battle” or “Physical” casualty and “the term Martyr is not being used in the Indian Army.”
Colonel (Retd.) Karan Thapar thinks that the Indian Army should have a proper definition of a “martyr” in its official records. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, he said, “Just because we did not have the definition of a ‘Martyr’ so far does not mean that we can’t introduce it now. According to me, a person who is dying for a cause and due to an enemy action is a martyr.”
“What happened is that people started terming those dead as martyrs, even if they had lost their lives due to sickness or accidents in the field area. In the public mind, a martyr is worthy of special respect for a special act he has done. I find no reason why the Army cannot introduce a new terminology, instead of calling all deaths as casualty in Battle or Physical. A Martyr status holds great respect for the person who laid down his life defending the country from the enemy on the first line of action,” Colonel (Retd.) Thapar added.
General (Retd.) S.P. Sinha also raised concerns on why the Indian Army has not yet been able to define the term “Martyr” in military lexicon.
Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, he said, “A Martyr is a fauji (soldier) who laid down his life for the country and the government needs to define the term in its official record. The Army should also maintain a record of all martyrs so that each family gets its due in time. I also think that the definition should be passed by the government in Parliament as an Act of Parliament.”
General (Retd.) G.D. Bakshi thinks that “martyr” is just a colloquial English term and is not a word used in military lexicon.
“Until all due is given to the person who has died defending his country, how does it matter whether we define martyr or not? A soldier who lays down his life for the country is anyway a martyr in the minds of the people and there is a proper standard operating procedure followed in the Army where due respect and state honours are given to the person who has laid down his life fighting the enemy.”
In the RTI reply to The Sunday Guardian, the Indian Air Force said that an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh, Rs 35 lakh, and Rs 45 lakh is given to the next of kin of the deceased personnel who died while performing bonafide official duty, killed in action by militants, terrorists, extremists or sea pirates or international war.
However, according to the RTI reply, the Indian Air Force does not have a separate provision of providing jobs to dependents of Indian Air Force personnel killed in action.