The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a proposal to give an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the victims of cross border firing along the Indo-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir.
A Rs 3 lakh compensation scheme exists for those who die due to terrorism or Left Wing Extremism violence but there is no scheme to compensate victims of cross border firing at present.
The decision was arrived at during a Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Cabinet’s approval now enhances the grant of compensation to the civilian victims under the scheme titled “Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/ Communal/Left Wing Extremist (LWE), Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory” from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
An amount of Rs.5 lakh will also be given to those who receive 50 per cent or more disability or incapacitation due to the same reasons.
"It is a historic decision by the Modi government. It gives a message to them the central government cares for them will go in a long way," Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said while announcing the measure.
Approximately 770 km of the Line of Control and approximately 220 km of International Border have been a witness to frequent ceasefire violation and the influx of terrorists since 1990.
More than 50 civilians die every year due to shelling and cross border firing along the Indo-Pak order in Jammu and Kashmir. As many as 13,921 civilians have lost their lives till last year.
A total of 168 civilians were killed due to naxal violence in maoist-hit states in 2015.
"Now onwards, any civilian who dies anywhere in the country due to terror attack, LWE violence, firing from across the border, shelling or IED explosion will be given Rs 5 lakh as compensation uniformly. The amount will be given to the next of kin of the victim," an official release said.
"The compensation amount will be given subject on the condition that no employment has been provided to any of the family members of the victims by state or central government," the release said.
During the Prime Minister's visit to Jammu and Kashmir on October 23, 2014, the issue of financial assistance to the people killed in cross border firing was raised.
For the first time in 70 years since independence, realising the problem of Indian population residing in border areas, the government analysed their plight as they suffer due to frequent violations of ceasefire specifically on the North Western border of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan.
"In view of the hardships faced by the civilian populations, the government decided to include the civilian victims of cross border firing under the scheme," it said.
Singh said the compensation will also be available for people living in Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK).
"We feel that people living in PoJK should get all facilities and benefits which are available to Indian citizens. They are also part of India. The compensation announced today cannot be given to them unless they are out of the illegal occupation of Pakistan", the Minister said.
Till now the next of kin of persons killed or civilians who suffered permanent incapacitation as a result of such violence were paid Rs three lakh as per provisions of the 'Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist, Communal, Naxal violence' since 2008.
"Families of the victims would be eligible to get assistance under the scheme even if they have received any other assistance, by way of payment of ex-gratia or any other type of relief from the government or any other source except when a similar scheme is already being implemented by the central government," the release said.
So far, the government has disbursed Rs 35.89 crore as compensation to civilian victims since inception of this scheme in 2008.