WHEN Karan Johar deposits Rs 5 crore in the Army welfare fund to ensure a hassle-free release for his film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil starring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan, he would be putting in more than four times the money in the fund currently. According to government sources, from mid-August when it was started, till last week, the Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties had received donations worth around Rs 1.4 crore.
The fund was started on the initiative of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who said a large number of organisations and individuals had approached him with the desire to aid families of soldiers who had died in battle. In a statement, the Defence Ministry had said that it had received a surge of such requests after the Siachen avalanche in February, which had led to the death of 10 soldiers.
The Army Welfare Fund Battle Casualties was started as a centralised fund, to accept donations and contributions from organisations and individuals, and to be managed by the adjutant general branch of the Army.
The assistance from the fund is meant to be in addition to the existing schemes for relatives of soldiers who die in battle. An SOP in this regard was approved by the Defence Ministry last month.
The ministry’s statement had said contribution to the fund must be voluntary in nature, to be used exclusively for “Next of Kins of Battle Casualties”. The ministry is considering a proposal to make contributions to the fund eligible for tax exemption.
Army sources Sunday refused to be drawn into the controversy, while calling the question of rejecting or accepting Rs 5 crore from Mumbai filmmakers working with Pakistani artistes as “hypothetical”.
The figure was arrived at a meeting on Saturday, with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis mediating between Ae Dil Hai Mushkil director Karan Johar and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, who had threatened to block its release.