History of the use of the word martyr:
The government has claimed for nearly a decade that the word “martyr” has not been officially recognized. In 2013 and 2014, in response to RTI’s request, the Ministry of Home Affairs revealed that the words “martyr” and “shahid” were not defined anywhere by the Government of India.
In December 2015, then Home Affair Minister Kireen Rijiju said in Lok Sabah that it is advised that the word “martyr” is not refer to any of the victims of the Indian army. He added that such terms were not used by Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) and Assam Rifles personnel either.
In December 2021, Minister of State Home Nityanand Rai told Rajya Sabha again that there was no formal term like “martyr.”
Objections to the use of martyrs’ words:
The word “martyr” has religious implications and has historically been used to refer to people making sacrifices for their religious beliefs like in Christianity . The word “Shahid”, which is used as a Hindu alternative to the word “Martyr”, also has a religious meaning and is associated with the Islamic concept of Shahadat. The word “martyr” is said to be derived from the Greek word “martur”. In various dictionaries, “martyr” is defined as a person who is willing to die as a punishment for refusing to abandon religion.
Since the Indian army is not affiliated with any religion and does not sacrifice their lives for religious principles, the use of such words for their sacrifice is found wrong,including the supreme leader of the army. Using words like martyr may not be correct in context to armed forces especially in India according to many legal experts and prominent officers of army and retired officers.
Steps Taken By Government To Stop Use Of Martyr Word:
Despite the repeated assertions of the government about the word
martyr having no official recognition, it was mostly used in government statements issued by various PR Officers for the defence services and the CAPFs. Many senior serving and retired officers also used it frequently to describe the death of soldiers in action. Thus, the word remained in common use.
The Army in 2022 issued a letter to all its commands asking them to abstain from using the word
martyr as it may not be appropriate for soldiers who die in the line of duty. They have been, instead, asked to use phrases such as killed in action, supreme sacrifice for the nation, battle casualty, laid down their lives,veergati etc.
“Either I will come back after hoisting the tricolor, or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure. “-Late Captain Vikram Batra (PVC)