Retired subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, whose suicide has triggered a political row over one-rank one-pension (OROP) issue with opposition parties coming in and declaring him a martyr, was cremated at a separate cremation ground meant for Dalits at his native village Bamla in Haryana’s Bhiwani district.
Village sarpanch Tasveer Singh told HT that since Grewal belonged to a scheduled caste (SC), his body was cremated at the ground built for his community near the village pond.
“In our village, Pandits, Dalits and Jats have different cremation grounds,” he said.
Even as Grewal’s death brought his entire village together for his cremation, it could not end the caste difference that prevails in this part of Haryana.
“What can we do? Our forefathers have been following this tradition and we never questioned it. We, too, are following it,” said the sarpanch, when asked why there were separate cremation grounds for different communities.
The 70-year-old ex-soldier, who retired from Defence Security Corps in 2004 after his service of 30 years, was elected as sarpanch of the village in 2005 on his return.
However, HT has learnt that during those elections, the seat for the sarpanch in his village was reserved for a Dalit candidate. “He had won with a large margin. Also, because his ‘gotra’ is Grewal, which is also shared by many Jats who also voted for him,” Tasveer said. In 2016, however, the seat of the sarpanch came under the general category and Tasveer won it.
While the Indian army never discriminates anyone on the basis of religion or caste, back home in the country’s interior villages, the harsh reality often comes to the fore at the most shocking times.
Ram Kishan not martyr: Haryana CM
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday said ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal, who had committed suicide, was not a martyr.
“A martyr is one who lays down his life guarding the motherland on the border. Though Grewal’s death is unfortunate, it cannot be termed as martyrdom,” Khattar said while interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha Swarna Jayanti Sammelan here.Asked why did the ex-serviceman take the extreme step, Khattar said.
“The matter is still being looked into, but according to initial reports, it was some error in his OROP (one-rank one pension) account in the bank against which he was protesting. Khattar also regretted that political parties were bent upon giving the tragic incident a political colour.
Kin slam Delhi Police, central govt for their ‘detention, mishandling’
The family of retired subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, who committed suicide on Thursday, slammed the Centre and the Delhi Police for “detaining and manhandling” them at a police station on Wednesday.
“They (Delhi Police) multiply the woes of harassed people,” Grewal’s son Jaswant said. “They detained us inside the police station for long and allowed us to go only at 1 am. What was the point of that drama?” he added.
Ram Kishan’s son also slammed Union minister VK Singh for commenting on his father’s mental status. “My father served 30 years in the army. He then served for five years as sarpanch in the village. After this, we get to hear the minister saying his mental condition was not OK!” he said. Hailing Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, he said, “He (Kejriwal) has done what the central government and the Haryana government has not done. While the Delhi government has declared him a martyr, the Centre and the state government failed to do so.”