Retired Maj. Gen. says soldiers require care and compassion, not disdain.
New Delhi: Bangladesh war hero Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo (Retd), whose name was mentioned by the Army to defend the tax on the disability pension, has asked government to show sensitivity to those who are suffering from medical conditions and not make statements that are “stigmatic to persons with disabilities”.
“What our soldiers suffering from any disability require is care and compassion, not disdain,” he said in a letter to Army headquarters.
Maj. Gen. Cardozo, a war hero of 1971 Bangladesh war, had amputated his own leg with his khukri after stepping on a land mine to keep gangrene from setting in. He continued to serve in the Army even after that.
“Though the tweets (by Army) referred to my war injury and my commitment to the organisation despite my disability, the same was apparently used to show other disabled personnel, that is, those who are suffering from non-combat disabilities, medical conditions and ailments, in an unpleasant light,” he displayed said in the letter. He said that the tweets also lack proper understanding of the issue.
“The disabilities that have been pointed as ‘lifestyle diseases’ in your tweets are fully covered under the rules for disability pension for the defence services and Central Armed Police Forces since the same are affected by service conditions such as frequent movement, exposure to operations, inability to cater to domestic requirements, lack of sleep, etc.,” said Maj. Gen. Cardozo.
He said that same are also duly recognised in all armed forces around the globe.
“The only lifestyle that a soldier knows of is military lifestyle and we cannot wash off our hands of soldiers who incur disabilities during the course of their service,” he added.
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday posted a letter on the Twitter “as response of the armed forces on the issue of taxability of disability pension”.
The note, which was also tweeted later by the Army, said that tax exemption provision had over the years led to rise in personnel seeking disability even for lifestyle diseases.
The note talked about “unscrupulous personnel”, who have gained from disability benefits provided by the government to disabled soldiers.
Last week, the finance ministry in a circular had said that disability pension of only those Army personnel will be tax-free who had to leave service due to disability suffered while doing their duty.
However, disability pension will not be tax-free for those Army personnel who retired from their services on superannuation, according to the circular. This had resulted in a series of protests from many Army veterans.