The 70-year-old retired soldier from Haryana, who committed suicide in the Capital early on Wednesday over one rank one pension (OROP) scheme, won several accolades for his contribution to social service and for changing the face of his village ‘Bamla’.
Ram Kishan Grewal started working for the welfare of his village in Bhiwani and became the village sarpanch after retiring from Defence Security Corps as a subedar in 2004 after serving in the unit for 28 years.
Simultaneously, he kept working for the welfare of ex-servicemen and vociferously joined protests for the implementation of the OROP scheme.
Grewal, who was leading a protest by former Haryana servicemen against OROP, reportedly reached Delhi on Monday to meet the defence minister with an application stating that despite the implementation of the OROP, the soldiers have not received the increased pension as per the sixth and seventh pay commission along with the due arrears.
While working as the sarpanch, Grewal not only helped open schools for girl children, but also brought a water pipeline to the village, solving the water crisis and sanitation problems. For the initiative, he was also awarded the ‘Nirmal Gram Puruskar’ by the then President, Pratibha Patil, in 2008.
Bamla village became the first few ‘Nirmal Grams’ in Haryana. The government of India had launched this award for fully sanitised and open defecation-free Gram Panchayats in 2003 and gave away the first awards in 2005 as a component of its flagship scheme ‘Total Sanitation Campaign’.
Grewal also received the Shankar Dayal Sharma award for his contribution in social service and a letter of appreciation from General Nirmal Chandra Vij, 21st chief of the Army staff, Indian Army.
“The school in the village was only till Class 10. My father fought with authorities and got senior secondary unit included. A separate branch was opened for girl students so that they are able to study till class 12,” Jaswant, Grewal’s son told HT.
“He also got water to the village for sanitation and agriculture. Earlier there was no water line and the women had to travel for several kilometers just to get drinking water. He got a pipeline laid and got water connections to Bamla. He was a brave man. Always inspired us all to work hard for the society, I can’t believe he ended his life,” he added.
Prithvi Singh, a resident of Bumla, who came to Delhi after learning of Grewal’s death told HT, “During his tenure as the sarpanch, he transformed Bamla. He also got the tender of a stadium passed for the children to play and practice. Even after his retirement, he hardly sat at home to rest.”
During the OROP protests last year, Grewal virtually shifted his base to New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.
“He was a part of all the major protests. He really felt for the cause and was certain that his efforts will not go for a waste. The government broke a man this strong. I think he gave up,” Singh said.