Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday alleged that the UPA denied benefits to the "martyrs" of paramilitary forces for years and it was the PM Modi government which ultimately conferred these benefits.
In a Facebook post, she said that on March 3, 2011, under the UPA II government, a Cabinet note was moved by the Home Ministry for declaration of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) persons, who died on active duty, as martyrs.
Subsequently, the then prime minister Manmohan Singh's office referred the matter to a Committee of Secretaries (CoS) on March 14 2011.
"Further on, in the CoS meeting which was held on 14th September 2011, the committee could not reach a common consensus on giving shahid/martyr status to CAPF personnel who died on active duty. Thereafter, the matter was shelved altogether by Government of India and not taken up further," Ms Sitharaman said.
She said after the Pulwama terror attack, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi added a "new dimension" to the public discourse for the paramilitary personnel, who lay down their lives in the line of duty, by demanding that they be given the martyr status which is given to those belonging to the armed forces.
"Mr Gandhi doesn't come from a school of thought wherein it is believed that those who sacrifice their lives for the cause of the nation are indeed martyrs in everyone's eyes, mind, heart and soul," she said.
Ms Sitharaman said the PM Modi government in 2016 increased the ex-gratia lump sum compensation to families of deceased CAPF jawans from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 35 lakh in case of deaths occurring in border skirmishes and action against militants.
Further, in cases of death attributed to acts of violence, the compensation was increased to Rs 25 lakh. This was in addition to their all other allowances, the minister said.
In 2017, the government further issued guidelines for issuance of ''Operational Casualty Certificate'' to the Next of Kin (NoK) of CAPFs, Assam Rifles and CPOs personnel confirming another set of benefits to them.
"They, along with lump sum ex-gratia pension to NoK, now get a liberalised family compensation and death gratuity as per rules. Presently, the compensation payable to our martyrs who have the ''Battle Casualty'' status in the case of Indian Armed Forces and those who have the ''Operational Casualty'' status in the case of CAPFs is identical," she said.
"The Congress president was expected to be aware and informed of these facts and information. The UPA government denied these benefits to the martyrs for years and it was the Modi-led NDA government which ultimately conferred these benefits," she added.
The 88,000 CRPF personnel who are deployed in the Left Wing Extremism-hit areas and Jammu and Kashmir had their ''risk and hardship'' allowance increased by 48 per cent in the case of officers and 78 per cent in the case of other ranks.
Recently, the government also gave them air travel facility while travelling from Jammu and Srinagar, she noted.