THE LAWFILE

“Stray cases of corruption dented image of armed forces”

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Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Sunday said stray cases of corruption had dented the image of armed forces. He stressed on the challenges before the forces while reminding the personnel that each solider needed to perform duty with devotion, honesty and truthfulness and strive to “uphold the trust” the Nation had put on defence services.

In his customary radio address to the troops on the eve of Independence Day, the Minister underscored how a few cases of corruption smeared the image of the armed forces in the eyes of people.

Mr. Antony’s word of advice comes amid several incidents of reports of corruption in the armed forces what with the Adarsh Housing Society scam coming under adverse comment in the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the recent report of a fake encounter in Jammu and Kashmir.

Modernisation

Assuring that modernisation of the armed forces remained a top priority of the government, the Defence Minister said the most modern weapon systems and equipment would be made available to them, a Defence Ministry release said.

He hinted that more avenues would be opened for women in the armed forces. The issue acquired fresh momentum after the courts intervened for grant of permanent commission even as demands for women in combat role were being debated.

“Whereas, on the one hand, bravery is required to deal with terrorists, at the same time, our armed forces must perform their duties with utmost caution. Armed forces must take special care of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast and other places.”

While stressing on discipline and delivery, the Minister sought to emphasise that the government took steps to improve the living standards of the soldiers both in the form of increased quantity and improved quality of rations, clothing and equipment and bringing them on par with officers, especially supply of fruits in particular.

Pointing out that he had realised the hardships and challenges that the troops faced during his visit to the forward posts in Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast, Rajasthan and Gujarat, Mr. Antony said the Defence Research and Development Organisation had designed insulated shelters that would provide medical aid and help save lives.

In the backdrop of frequent protests by ex-servicemen, including the demand for one rank, one pay, the Minister lauded their contribution and asserted that their welfare remained a priority.

As for pension-related problems, Mr. Antony said these were being addressed, while amenities were being expanded. “We have taken several steps for the welfare of our ex-servicemen. Fifteen new regional health centres and 199 polyclinics had been started to provide better health care for ex-servicemen.

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