Chandigarh: Army chief Gen Bikram Singh on Saturday declined to comment on the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to India against the backdrop of unease over the killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistan Army.

"It (visit of Pakistan PM) is a political decision... let's not make an issue out of it. Let the government take the decision. Being an Army chief, I would not like to comment on it," Singh said.

He was asked to comment on Ashraf's visit to India. However, he said the Indian Army had already conveyed its concern to the Centre on the issue of ceasefire violations, beheading of an Indian soldier and brutal killing of another soldier by Pakistani troops in January.

"At that time, we showed our concern...We have shown our emotions (to the Centre)," the Army Chief, who was here to attend the War Decorated India Triennial National Convention cum Reunion, said. He said the Indian Army was giving a "befitting" reply to any ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops. "If they (Pak troops) violate ceasefire, hum bhi churian pehan ke nahin baithe hain (we are not wearing bangles). Our men also fire. This work is done at the tactical level and it is happening," he asserted.

"This action (reacting to ceasefire violations) is seen at the lower level and not decided at the Army Chief's level," he pointed out. On the strengthening of road infrastructure near Tibet by China, the Army chief said India is also undertaking infrastructure development in its territory. "China is carrying out development in its own area, we are doing in our area. Infrastructure development is an ongoing process. Each country does it," he said.

Earlier, addressing the gathering, Singh asked ex-servicemen to remain apolitical having been part of the disciplined force. "I want that our ex-servicemen associations should not get politicised. We need to be disciplined. I am seeing that ex-servicemen associations are becoming political. It should not happen. We are secular and it is important, he asserted.

Maintaining that the Government was sensitive to the demands of war veterans and ex-servicemen, the Army chief said special emphasis was being laid on strengthening medical facilities for ex-army personnel. "We are in the process of strengthening our Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) in order to provide best medical care to our ex-servicemen. Efforts are on for allocation of more funds and adding more staff for ECHS," he said.

He said a pilot project of setting up old age homes for ex-army men is underway in Panchkula (Haryana), being carried out by Western Command. "Such old age homes will also be set up by other army commands," he said.

He further said that a pay commission cell had been set up for factoring in demands of ex-servicemen and army personnel in the new pay commission. "Pay Commission Cell will visit army commands, ex-servicemen and know their requirements which will be factored in for the next pay commission," he said.

On the One Rank One Pension, Singh said the government was committed to fulfilling the aspirations of Army personnel. He said the Government had already set up a committee last year under the Cabinet Secretary in this regard.

Speaking on this occasion, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said that gallantry award winners would get free travel cards with three years validity. He said the ministry had received representations that ex-servicemen faced problems in the existing system of annual renewal.


Latest News from India News Desk