The military's reputation of showing gratitude in return for sacrifices made by its heroes is at stake.
Widow of Wing Commander Vikas Jetly, a top Indian Air Force stunt pilot, who died last week after being in coma for four years, has not received her dues from the air force for more than a year.
Shalini Jetly, 40, has also been pleading with the IAF for a school job for more than three years.
Shalini wrote to defence minister AK Antony on Tuesday seeking his intervention to get her dues (pension and gratuity) from the IAF and a school job on compassionate grounds. She has two children, Sukrit, 12, and Tanisha, 8.
She says, "I have written to the minister after exhausting all available avenues. Vikas is gone but my children have their lives ahead of them. I have to arrange for their school fees and bills have to be paid."
The 42-year-old pilot performed stunts for the IAF's Sarang helicopter display team. The Dhruv advanced light helicopter he was flying crashed outside Bangalore on February 2, 2007. His co-pilot Squadron Leader Priye Sharma was killed.
Shalini's father NN Sharma says, "Life has been a living hell for the family… Shalini and her children have suffered enough. She is taking care of her in-laws like a son, without any source of income. The government should take a sympathetic view..."
IAF spokesperson Wing Commander TK Singha said, "Pension and gratuity dues will be paid at the earliest. We are also exploring other options to help out the family."