‘One more family ruined like us’

  • Vivek Gupta, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jun 10, 2014 15:21 IST

Manjit Kaur (44), wife of heroic UT fireman Amarjit Singh Mavi who died in October 2008 during a firefighting operation in Sector 22, had tears in her eyes as she heard about another UT fireman, Amandeep Sidhu, losing his life while perfor ming duty at the Sector-17 building which collapsed following a fire on Sunday.

“Ik hor pariwar ujjarh gaya (one more family has been ruined),” she said in a chocked voice. Her reaction exudes extreme pain because even after six years of her husband’s death, the UT administration has yet not provided any compensation or gover nment service to the next of kin.
In 2011, the family that lives in Dhanas was forced to knock the doors of the Punjab and Haryana high court to seek the release of ex gratia announced by the municipal corporation (MC) and a job for a family member on compensatory ground, but the case is still sub judice.

She said, “Being a firefighter is a curse here. My husband risked his life every day and finally laid it down. After him, our family got not hi ng but humiliation at the hands of his senior bosses.”

Deceased’s younger son Gurbir Singh (20), who j ust completed BTech and is still unemployed, said the death of another firefighter had brought back the terrible memories of the day his father died.
“My f ather was the alone breadwinner in the family. We survived because we are living in a joint family, but the entire f amily is yet to come out of trauma,” he said.

He said one of two firefighters who died in the Sunday’s incident was from defence background and his family would surely get all kinds of post death benefits, but there seemed no hope for the UT fireman’s family.

“It is high time and the administration must wake up and show some sensitivity to their employees who lose their life on duty,” said Gurbir, further adding that firefighters needed respectable service conditions which justify the amount of risk they put in the field. “I hope someone listens to our pain,” he said.

Amarjit’s elder brother Labh Singh (55) said, “My brother has died once, but our family dies every day.” He said, “In the past six years, we knocked the doors of every gover nment office to seek relief. Once in the open darbar in 2009, the UT administrator in the presence of the adviser asked to put up the file immediately for government job but no one moved the file in the administration.”
Instead of any help, he said, the fire department of ficials used to laugh on them, making them feel as if they were beggars. All they got after Amarjit’s death is his provident fund and monthly pension which is comparatively very low, he added.

“In UT, the poor do not get jobs. If we had money to pay officials or some big approach, my nephew would have been in gover nment job by now. Next hearing in the case is scheduled in August and we request all officials concerned to speed up our matter as the family is fighting for the past six years now.”

In October 2005 , fireman Gurbinder Singh died while combating a fire operation. Sources said the UT administration had denied the release of ex gratia grant and government job to the next of kin on the plea that he was the employee of the MC and the administration had no concern with it.

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