Agniveer died by ‘self-inflicted gunshot injury’, says Army amid backlash over no guard of honour

New Delhi: Amid a backlash on social media, including by some veterans, over lack of guard of honour for a recently deceased Agniveer, the Indian Army Saturday clarified he died of “self-inflicted gunshot injury”.   

The Army’s 16 Corps, also known as the White Knight Corps, issued a statement about Agniveer Amritpal Singh’s death 11 October.

“In an unfortunate incident, Agniveer Amritpal Singh died while on sentry duty in Rajouri Sector, due to a self-inflicted gun-shot injury. Court of Inquiry to ascertain more details is in progress,” the Army said.

The statement came amid claims on social media that Singh was “martyred” at the Line of Control (LoC) and that there were no Army officers present at the funeral and that no guard of honour was given. 

Social media posts also claimed that on request of the villagers in Mansa district of Punjab, the local police accorded a guard of honour to Singh.  

Even some veterans shared similar claims suggesting that this treatment to Agniveers was predicted since they are not being treated as soldiers.  

“We must accord due respect to all our soldiers,” former Union minister and senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal tweetedeven as she pointed out that Singh may not have been accorded a guard of honour because he was an Agniveer. She also requested Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to issue directions for ensuring the same honour to all martyred soldiers. 

In its statement, the Army asserted that rules were followed in this case as well. “Mortal remains of the deceased, accompanied by one Junior Commissioned Officer and four other ranks, were transported in a civil ambulance hired by the unit of the Agniveer. Accompanying Army personnel also attended the last rites,” it said. 

“The cause of death being a self-inflicted injury, no guard of honour or military funeral was provided, in accordance with the existing policy.” 

Army sources said that the accompanying personnel were in civil dress.  

Earlier in the day, a video went viral on social media which claimed that Singh’s body was brought to the village by his family in a private ambulance and not in an Army vehicle. It was also claimed that no Army unit was present at the cremation and no guard of honour was provided to him. 

(Edited by Smriti Sinha)

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