New Delhi: The Army has advised its formations against the use of the word “martyrs” for those who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty and has suggested 11 words, including Fallen Heroes, Indian Army Braves and Fallen Soldiers, as its replacement.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said the term “martyr” refers to a person who suffers death as penalty for witnessing and refusing to renounce a religion or a person who suffers much or is killed because of religious and political beliefs. (This definition is according to the circular)
According to a circular issued by the Army headquarters, soldiers who have made “supreme sacrifice” while protecting the sovereignty and integrity of the nation should be to refer to any of the terms such as Killed-in-Action, Laid down their Lives, Supreme Sacrifice for the nation, Fallen Heroes, Indian Army Braves and Fallen Soldiers, Battle Casualty, Bravehearts, Braves whom we lost, Veergati/Veergati Prapt and Veer.
In the past both the Defence Ministry and the Home Ministry have also clarified that the word martyr is not part of official language.
In December 2013, when responding to a question on whether 31,895 para-military forces, who have lost their lives while in the line of duty in the last 53 years, not been considered as “Shaheed/martyrs” by the government because they do not belong to Army, Air Force or Navy, the Ministry of Home Affairs had said, “The Government does not differentiate between the sacrifice made by the personnel belonging to the various armed forces of the union. The Ministry of Defence have indicated that shaheed/martyr is not defined anywhere and presently they are not issuing any such order/notification to this effect in respect of the defence personnel”.
In 2015, the Union Defence Ministry has informed the Ministry of Home Affairs that the word ‘Martyr’ is not used in reference to any of the casualties in Indian Armed Forces, Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and Assam Rifles (AR) personnel killed in action or on any operation.
In an article titled “Military has no Martyrs”, Lieutenant General Satish Dua, former Corps Commander in Kashmir, and former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, and Major Navdeep Singh, a lawyer at the Punjab & Haryana High Court, where in they noted that the term martyr is used “wherein the person himself or herself willingly submits to death for political causes”.
Tracing the origin of such term in the Indian army’s lexicon, they wrote, “The incorrect terminology crept into practice more since the 1990s despite many commentators and old soldiers repeatedly emphasizing that while it is being applied from an emotive viewpoint, it is actually disrespectful to soldierly traits because it has direct religious connection and reflects suffering and persecution”.
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