The Union Ministry of Defence on Wednesday said that it will relook and re-examine its decision to cap the educational expenses of Rs 10,000 per month paid to the children of martyrs and disabled soldiers.
“It is a sentimental issue and I respect martyrs and their families and I know that the order is hurting them. I will take a relook at the issue,” Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
“The decision was taken earlier this year by the Union Cabinet going by the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission,” she added.
The decision from the MoD came after strong protests by the affected families as well as a collective representation from the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs.
Under the scheme, martyrs’ children were being provided full tuition and hostel fees without any cap till they acquired the first degree such as BA, B.Tech, MBBS, B.Com. The scheme currently covers around 3,400 children and entails an expenditure of around Rs 5 crore per year.
The scheme to cover the educational expenses of children of martyrs and disabled soldiers was announced in the Lok Sabha on December 18, 1971. The scheme 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 earlier this year, a letter issued by the ex-servicemen welfare department held that only a maximum of Rs 10,000 per month would be now be paid or reimbursed under the scheme.
The decision led to widespread protests from Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh (retd), Union Minister Gen V K Singh and chiefs of staff committee (CoSC), which comprises the Army, IAF and Navy chiefs.