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‘Martyr’ and ‘Shaheed’ No Terms in Army, Police: Defence Ministry

A soldier or a policeman killed in action is called a “battle casualty” or “operations casualty.” 

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There is no term as ‘martyr’ or ‘shaheed’ in the army or the police, and instead a soldier or a policeman killed in action is called a "battle casualty" or "operations casualty" respectively, the Ministries of Defence and Home have submitted before the Central Information Commission (CIC).

The issue surfaced after an RTI applicant approached the Union Home Ministry seeking to know the meaning and detailed definition of the word ‘shaheed’ (martyr) according to the law and the Constitution.

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The RTI applicant also sought to know the legal provisions to ensure restriction on its misuse and punishment for violation. The application was transferred to different officials of the Home and Defence Ministries, but when the applicant could not get a satisfactory response, he approached the CIC, the highest appellate body in matters relating to the Right to Information Act.

The respondents from the Ministries of Defence and Home Affairs were present and heard, Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad said.

The respondent from the Ministry of Defence stated that the word ‘shaheed’ or ‘martyr’ is not used by the MoD. Instead the one used is ‘battle casualty.’ The respondent from the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that in the MHA, the word used is ‘operations casualty.’
Yashovardhan Azad, Information Commissioner

Quoting the submissions, he noted that the decision to declare cases of 'battle casualty' and 'ops' were taken after a report of a court of inquiry in both the matters.

"After hearing the respondents and the perusal of the record, the commission finds that the averments made by both the respondents have duly explained the correct usage of the terms and directs the respondents to send a revised reply to the appellant accordingly," he said.

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