After the last rites of Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri, Mahavir Chakra, was performed with police honours on Monday, serving and retired Army officers in the city raised a demand that the Army should amend its rules so that a retired gallantry awardee can be given a military funeral.
The disquiet reflected in messages, which did the rounds of social media Tuesday, wherein it was pointed out that there were no military honours by an Army contingent. The messages also point out that the police contingent present, only fired a volley once in the air as against the norm of three and that the body was not draped in the National Flag.
Several serving officers, who spoke to The Indian Express on the condition of anonymity, said that that it was high time that the Adjutant General’s (AG) branch of the Army Headquarters amended the regulations, which do not provide for a retired officer to be given military funeral. “A person who has been given one of the highest gallantry awards of the country is not entitled to a military funeral if we go by the AG’s branch rules. How absurd is this? Certainly we cannot blame the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for this. I do not think the MoD will object if the Army HQ amends its rule to honour its gallantry awardees. In fact the MoD may even ask why this has not been done for so long,” said an officer.
Another message doing the rounds on social media quoted a retired Army officer saying that he accosted the Western Army Commander, Lt Gen Surinder Singh, at the Sector 25 cremation ground expressing his grouse. “When the Army is involved in giving ceremonial funerals to all and sundry, including movie stars and former ministers, it is a shame we cannot give it to our own brethren. The Colonel of the Punjab Regiment is the Chief of Staff, Western Command, and he could have requested the Army Commander to make an exception,” said another officer.
It was also pointed out that recently Brig N S Sandhu (Retd), Mahavir Chakra, was given a military funeral solely on the initiative of the GOC 2 Corps who is his son-in-law.
When contacted, a senior officer in the Army Headquarters confirmed that as per the rules and regulations, only retired Chief of Army Staff and Army Commanders were entitled to a military funeral and not retired officers even if he is a gallantry awardee.
Former Northern and Central Army Commander, Lt Gen H S Panag (Retd) said that he did not see any reason why the retired gallantry awardees could not be given a military funeral. “I feel that they should be given. The modalities can be worked out by the Army HQ regarding up to what level of awardees, such ceremonial funerals should be given,” he said.