NEW DELHI: The Army came under severe criticism from the veterans of the armed forces on Wednesday for endorsing a government move to tax the disability pension given to the personnel who were disabled in the line of duty.
Many former Army officers took to Twitter to express their displeasure over the Centre's decision.
In a series of tweets, the Army on Tuesday said over the years, broad-banding and the compensation awarded for disability with income tax exemption had led to a rise in the number of personnel claiming disability even for lifestyle diseases.
The endorsement has drawn a sharp reaction from the veterans, with former military secretary Lt Gen.
(Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain saying in a tweet, "ADGPI at its worst possible. Campaigning against its own." Maj.
D P Singh, an amputee of the Kargil war and a veteran who bounced back as India's "blade runner", also took to the microblogging website to express his disappointment over the decision.
"Time to relook service #Disability from a more positive angle. Curbing is not a solution but finding road blocks&mending that, is," he said in a tweet.
"Despite various meetings, issues as touchy as young kids, cadets, who get disabled while in training and are thrown out as unfit to fend for themselves, does not even get his pension, were ignored but an unsigned note saw such a quick action (sic)," he said in another tweet.
The Army's reaction on Tuesday came hours after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's office tweeted a letter, saying unscrupulous personnel had gained from the disability benefits provided by the government to soldiers.
Maj. Gen.(retd) S S Chohan tweeted saying, "How can you blame the others when your own have pulled the rug!" Another veteran, using the @desertfox61I handle on Twitter, reacted to the letter, saying, "If the process is imperfect tighten that Close loopholes But don't penalise disabled by painting all in one colour (sic)." The armed forces personnel get a separate pension if they suffer any kind of disability in the line of duty.
The amount depends on their rank and the kind of disability. Major Navdeep Singh, a lawyer and author who appears in court cases for soldiers' welfare, tweeted saying, "Actually I'm too benumbed to even react.
This note goes against rules, judgements of the Supreme Court, medical science, and various reports of commissions and committees on the subject. Just too shocked. Unbelievable. Totally unbelievable." He is also the author of "Maimed by the System", a collection of real-life accounts of the defence personnel, military veterans, disabled soldiers and their kin, who were wronged by the system but fought and successfully claimed their rights and dues.