New Delhi: The Indian Army has refuted claims by 26/11 hero and former National Security Guard (NSG) Commando Naik Surender Singh of that he has not received bulk of his dues after social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal took up his case. The Ministry of Defence in a press release said that commando Surender Singh, who was from 2 Grenadiers, had received bulk of his dues. According to the Ministry Singh has been paid Provident Fund of Rs 6.48 lakh, group insurance of Rs 1.18 lakh and disability pension of Rs 10 lakh.
Singh would also receive the final statement of accounts of Rs 89,000 and commutation of Rs 9 lakh in a month's time. Singh's monthly pension which should have been around Rs 11,000 has gone up to Rs 25,000 because of his disability. The Ministry also said that the commando never wrote to either AG office or the Army Chief's office.
"Nk Surender Singh has been sanctioned pensionary and terminal benefits viz-a-viz retirement gratuity Rs 2,11,458/-, Commutation of pension Rs 11,35,809/-, Armed Forces PF Rs 6,48,195/-, Army Group Insurance Rs 1,13,849/- and Army Group Disability Cover Rs 10 lakhs, Final settlement of accounts Rs 89,705/- and ex-gratia from welfare fund Rs 10,000/-. He is also entitled to an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 9 lakhs for 100 per cent disability which will be processed separately. He has been sanctioned a pension of Rs.25,254/- per month which includes service elements and war injury elements," the press release said.
Singh suffered injuries in the 26/11 operations and was forced to leave the force. He alleged that the Army denied him post-retirement benefits saying he has not completed 15 years in service.
"Those soldiers who were injured and disabled in the 26/11 rescue operations have not been honoured. They should be given Ashok Charkras for their service," said Singh. "I have been given no pension at all. I has received it, I would be complaining today. I have been given nothing. I don't know what the government is saying. If they give me the money now, then I have nothing else to say," he added.
Singh said that Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab's execution on Wednesday was a tribute to the soldiers who laid down their lives to save Mumbai. But he also blamed the government for not taking adequate care of the soldiers.
"I think justice has been served. Those who soldiers their lives in the attack have been granted justice. But how will their souls rest if their comrades are treated so poorly by the government," he replied when asked about Kasab.
The government also maintained that the allegations levelled by Singh at a press confrence called by Kejriwal in New Delhi on Thursday were false and that it has already paid out Rs 31 lakh to soldier. Kejriwal alleged that Singh had only got a fraction as the sum was distributed between 11 commandos, who were injured during the 26/11 operation to eliminate the Pakistani terrorists.
Kejriwal further slammed the government over Surendra's claims, saying the government is shamelessly misleading the nation. He said on Twitter, "31 lakhs given to 11 injured, not to Surinder Singh. Out of 31 lakhs, surinder got jst 2.5 lakh. Can govt prove that surinder getting Rs 25 thousand per month? If it is not proved, who wud resign in govt for misleading nation? (sic)".
Interestingly, the government's rejection first came on PIB's twitter handle even as the press conference was on. Narating his story, Singh said he was severely injured in the operation to flush out terrorists from the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai and was invalidated from service in October, 2011. Since last year, he alleged, he has not received "even a single paise" from the government.
Singh claimed that NSG commandos, who were injured in the 26/11 operation, received a "number of gifts in the form of cheques" but the force had not dispersed them to the people concerned. "I saw a file in which the photocopy of a cheque of Rs 2 lakh each from Rohan Motors Pvt Ltd and another firm were received in my name. I never got the money. Not just me but none of my colleagues got the money which came in their name. I want to know who en-cashed them and where are they now?" he asked.
"When I asked officials what happened to the money, they said the Home Ministry decided that no gifts or donations will be received by the NSG. But they did not show me the records to prove that those money have been returned," Singh said.
He also demanded that an enquiry be launched into the matter and the government clarify what it did with the money gifted by several firms and individuals. He also distributed copies of an RTI reply which said he received around Rs 2.5 lakh as financial benefits from the Government of India.
Presenting an order from the Government which said Singh was not eligible to get pension as he has put in only 14 years and three months of service as against the mandatory 15 years, Kejriwal claimed there are several clauses in the law under which a commando can be given concessions so that he gets his pension.
"Is this the way to treat our commandos who sacrifice their lives for the nation? Does he deserve just Rs 4 lakh? The government should say what happened to the cheques that were gifted to the NSG?" he asked.
The government took to Twitter while Singh was making the allegations and said: "The government has given Nk (Naik) Surender Singh all his dues." Press Information Bureau's twitter handle said: "(The government has) informed Singh on November 16 through telephone that war injury pension has been sanctioned and bankers were also informed."
"Surender Singh is getting war injury pension of Rs 25,254 per month. Rs 31 lakh retirement emoluments is paid to Surender Singh," it said. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the commandos were drawn from different forces. "I will inquire into it," he told reporters when asked about the allegations.
However, Singh rejected the claims and said he has not received any money from the government. "You can check my bank account. I have not got any money. The government is lying," he said. Singh said he received roughly around Rs 4 lakh as rewards from various sources, including Rs 1 lakh each from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. "In that money, I spent over Rs 1 lakh on medical expenses. I have a family to run," he said.