Four months after Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag handed over a Rs 100-crore cheque to Prime Minister's Relief Fund for the flood victims of Jammu and Kashmir, the Army has denied information of any such donation.
Army General Suhag had presented the Rs 100-crore cheque, which was claimed to be raised by the soldiers and officers of 1.18 million strong army after donating their day's salary, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Army Day reception on January 15.
However, an RTI reply from Army headquarters, has confirmed that "no such amount on account of contributions from salary of any Army personnel has yet been donated to the PM's Relief Fund."
Three days after the reception day function, the New Indian Express had reported about the army soldiers and officers, fuming over being not asked in advance by the higher officials before deducting their salaries and presenting the collected amount to the relief fund.
"What an irony... Our war widows struggle for their day to day living... Our jawans are not able to afford good education for their children... and here we become so large hearted to donate money to the politicians... Did the COAS take our permission before doing this...? When did he start having rights on our hard earned Money...? Has any civilian/politician ever donated his salary for us...? It is time we raise our voice and stop this nonsense before it becomes precedence. Why should we pay for their future Goals," the TNIE report had quoted an official saying on WhatsApp.
Apparently, media reports like these prompted Dehradun-based activist Prabhu Dandriyal to file an RTI on March 20, seeking what happened to the Rs 100 crore cheque donated to the PM's Relief Fund by army.
Denying any such contribution for the flood-affected people of Jammu and Kashmir, the RTI reply from Public Information Officer, Lt. Col. Rajiv Guleria on Tuesday, May 12, has added that the matter is under consideration.
Interestingly, press releases with photographs of Suhag handing over the cheque of raised amount to Modi in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, continue to be hosted on the websites of Prime Minister and Press Information Bureau.
Filing his RTI petition now to the Prime Minister's Office, Dandriyal has sought to know how the Rs 100 crore cheque was utilized.
"When by March 20, no amount of contribution was taken from the salaries, then how did the army chief submit the fund of Rs 100 crore to PM relief fund. This is why I have sought clarification from the PMO by filing another RTI," Dandriyal said.
The RTI revelation has come in the backdrop of severe financial crises ailing Jammu and Kashmir. Reeling from the post-floods devastation, the summer capital city of Srinagar has witnessed protests, almost on daily basis, from daily wagers and government employees demanding pending salaries and arrears.
After the September 2014 floods, the J&K; state government had forwarded a Rs 44,000 crore rehabilitation proposal to the central government, which has not been entertained by the centre till now.
(With inputs from PTI)