NEW DELHI: A city-based organisation of war disabled and battle casualties has taken strong exception to the Army's endorsement of a government move to tax the disability pension, saying any "discrimination or invidious distinction" while making an official statement, affects the morale of the entire military community.
In a series of tweets, the Army on Tuesday had 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 had also upset several veterans of the armed forces, some of whom had suffered grievous injuries in action.
Disabled War Veterans (India) has written a letter to the Army over the issue and raised its concern, and also claimed, "It is also well known that disability in the military is on a rise all over the globe due to operational commitments, transfers and other stressors".
"Being at the forefront of issues related to the war disabled, we must put it on record that sensitivity must be displayed towards genuinely disabled with non-operational disabilities also," reads the letter sent by the organisation to ADGPI (Additional Directorate General of Public Information) of the Army.
In the letter, dated July 3, the Delhi-based organisation has also underlined that stress and strain of military service is known to "adversely affect" the health profile of troops.
"Rather than attaching stigma to low medical personnel or negativity to disability compensation, we should be concerned about ensuring better medical care for our soldiers and ensuring a stress-free health and not payments," it said.
The letter has been signed by the organisation's president, Capt (retd) N K Mahajan, described in it as a "100 per cent disabled veteran" of Indo-Pak War of 1971.
"Disability compensation is not only limited to war or operation disabilities, but is also available to all other medical conditions that arise while a person is serving in the military. In fact, as per rules, all disabilities arising in service are presumed to be related to service conditions since a person joins the military after a series of tests for physical and mental fitness," the letter said.
The same has also been mandated by judgements of the Supreme Court and high courts, it added.
"No doubt, the war disabled and battled casualties deserve priority attention and our organisation is committed to their welfare. However, the authorities at all levels should also be sensitive towards all disabled veterans," it said.
"It is imperative to avoid any discrimination or invidious distinction while making official statement, since it affects the morale of the entire military community and also paints a wrong picture in the public eye," the letter said.