The Indian Army on Sunday said that the death of Agniveer Amritpal Singh was a case of suicide amid criticism from the Opposition over the absence of a guard of honour at his last rites in Punjab.

The Army reiterated that a military funeral is not accorded in cases of deaths by suicide.

This came a day after the Army said that Singh, who was recently enlisted as an Agniveer, died in Jammu and Kashmir on October 11 due to a self-inflicted gunshot injury. His last rites were carried out at the Kotli Kalan village in Punjab’s Mansa district on Friday.

“Unfortunate instances of death arising out of suicide/self-inflicted injury, irrespective of the type of entry, are accorded due respect by the Armed Forces along with deep and enduring empathy with the family,” the additional directorate general of public information said. “Such cases, however, are not entitled military funerals as per the extant Army Order of 1967, in vogue. Policy on the subject has been consistently followed ever since, without any discrimination.”

The Army’s public information unit added that 100 to 140 soldiers have died by suicide annually since 2001. In such cases, military funerals have not been accorded, it said.

Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal questioned why the soldier was cremated without a guard of honour and remarked that his family had to take his body to his native village in a private ambulance.

Former Meghalaya Governor Satyapal Malik also criticised the Centre for not according Agniveers the status of a martyr, The Indian Express reported.

Agniveers are enlisted in the armed forces under the Agnipath short-term recruitment scheme. Under the scheme, citizens aged between 17-and-a-half and 21 years are eligible to apply for a four-year term in the military.

Malik said that the district’s senior superintendent of police arranged a police guard of honour in the absence of Army personnel after the villagers approached him.

Congress’ Punjab unit chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring asked if Agniveers are different from other soldiers.

“The bereaved family had to request the local Punjab Police to give our young boy a guard of honour,” Warring said in a social media post. “Is this why Bharatiya Janata Party started this policy? Does the Central Government have any answers for this inhuman treatment of our young martyr? Shameful!”

Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha claimed that Singh’s family will not be entitled to a pension.

“Does the government differentiate between jawans and Agniveers?” he asked. “Is only dying after being hit by an enemy bullet considered martyrdom? A soldier can die for other reasons or under other circumstances while on duty. Will this act of the government not affect the morale of the Army?”

On Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said that the state government will consider him a martyr and will pay Rs 1 crore to the family, irrespective of the Centre’s policies regarding the incident.

Mann said on social media that the Punjab government will raise a protest with the Centre over the issue.

If you have suicidal feelings, please consider seeking help through the helplines and resources listed here.