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After protests, govt re-examines cap on study expenses of kids of martyrs, disabled soldiers

NEW DELHI: The defence ministry is “re-examining” its decision to cap the educational expenses in the shape of tuition and hostel fees paid to children of martyrs and Disabled Soldiers to just Rs 10,000 per month after strong protests by the affected families as well as a collective representation from the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs.

“The defence ministry (MoD) is seized of the matter. The order was passed (by MoD’s ex-servicemen welfare department) based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission,” said an official on Tuesday.

The scheme, under which a martyr’s child was provided full tuition and hostel fees without any cap till he or she acquired the first degree (like BA, BTech, MBBS, BCom etc), currently covers around 3,400 children and entails an expenditure of around Rs 5 crore per year.

The scheme, which allowed complete reimbursement of tuition and other fees for children of martyrs and those Disabled in action, came into force after the 1971 war to liberate Bangladesh. It was later extended to children of officers and soldiers killed or disabled in Operation Meghdoot (Siachen-Saltoro Ridge) and Operation Pawan (IPKF in Sri Lanka) as well as in counter-insurgency operations.

But a letter issued by the ex-servicemen welfare department on September 13 held that only a maximum of Rs 10,000 per month would be now be paid or reimbursed under the scheme. It has led to widespread protests, with Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh (retd) also writing to defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman that the decision was ‘immoral’ and ‘unprincipled’.

“The fee being paid to the children of martyrs and disabled soldiers was a small price in exchange for what they had given, and continued to give, to the nation,” he said, asking for a review of the decision immediately. Former Army chief and minister of state for external affairs General V K Singh (retd), too, joined in by tweeting: “Have written on the issue to RM (Raksha Mantri). Am sure Babus of the MoD will rectify this as early as possible.”

The chiefs of staff committee (CoSC), which comprises the Army, IAF and Navy chiefs, has also written to the MoD that the decision should be revised to ensure the Rs 10,000 cap is lifted. “This small gesture would assure the families of our brave women and men that the nation cares for them and their sacrifices are truly appreciated by the government,” said CoSC chairman and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, in the letter.

“These personnel have made the supreme sacrifice for the country and the provision of educational concessions to their wards is a small gesture to recognise their commitment to the defence of the country,” he added.

Source : timesofindia



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After protests, govt re-examines cap on study expenses of kids of martyrs, disabled soldiers

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