The Narendra Modi government is a “habitual offender” in working against the welfare of armed forces personnel and veterans, the Congress alleged on Saturday.

The statement came after the Centre released new rules for the grant of disability benefits to members of the armed forces. The “Entitlement Rules for Casualty Pension and Disability Compensation Awards to Armed Forces Personnel, 2023, significantly change the definition of pension, eligibility criteria and quantum of compensation.

The All India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association has said that the new rules violate the law as well as Supreme Court judgements, reported The Indian Express. Bhim Sen Sehgal, the chairperson of the association, said that the new rules place soldiers at a disadvantage when compared to civilian employees.

“The definition of invalidation has also been changed in a regressive manner and it has been reiterated that there would be a requirement of ten years of service to earn an Invalid Pension,” said Sehgal. “This requirement was already abrogated for civilian employees in January 2019.”

He also said that heart disease shall now be considered linked to service only if it occurs in high altitude areas. The older rules stated that all heart disease were linked with stress and strain of service without any preconditions.

Sehgal added that that the officer trainees and cadets not being entitled to disability pension was against Supreme Court decisions and common medical knowledge.

On Saturday, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge said that the change in the present policy flouts multiple court judgements, rules and acceptable global norms.

“BJP’s fake nationalism is yet again visible in the new disability pension rules for our brave Armed Forces!” Kharge said on X, formerly called Twitter. “The All India Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association has strongly protested this new policy by the Modi government, which places soldiers at a disadvantage when compared to civilian employees.”

Kharge said that the Centre had inflicted a “similar betrayal” in June 2019 when it announced that it would tax disability pensions.

He also claimed that the Agnipath scheme was an explicit admission that the Modi government does not have the funds for soldiers and alleged that One Rank One Pension has witnessed large-scale anomalies too.

The Congress leader demanded the setting up of an ex-servicemen commission to address the grievances of armed forces veterans.

The Agnipath scheme was announced by the government on June 14 last year. Under this scheme, citizens aged between 17-and-a-half and 21 years will be eligible to apply for a four-year service in the military. Of these recruits, 25% will be eligible to apply as regular personnel after they complete their four-year service.

Protests had erupted against the decision as job aspirants demanded permanent recruitment under the regular process, pension and other retirement benefits, which are not part of the Agnipath scheme.