Braveheart of '65 now lives in misery
He had saved 88 soldiers from drowning shortly after the 1965 war with Pakistan and was later given a gallantry medal and stipend by the government.india Updated: Aug 14, 2010 23:11 IST
He had saved 88 soldiers from drowning shortly after the 1965 war with Pakistan and was later given a gallantry medal and stipend by the government.
But on the eve of another Independence day, 75-year old Atul Halder faces starvation at his Naghata home under Krishnagunj block in Nadia district, deprived of the Rs 1,500 monthly stipend by the Union Home Ministry.
Halder had tied a rope with a tree to rescue 88 soldiers as two army ships, collided on September 18, 1965, on river Ichhamati near Naghata in Krishnagunj and played a leading role in rescuing 20 soldiers from water and 68 from the sinking ships.
He had also fished out some arms and handed over to the army authorities.
After his bravery was made public, Halder had been awarded with the Ashok Chakra (III), a certificate and Rs 100 as monthly stipend.
Though his stipend amount was raised to Rs 1500 subsequently, it was stopped for unspecified reasons about four months back.
"I am too poor and aged. I am not getting stipend for the past four months, which has virtually pushed me and wife Ganga to the verge of starvation. Can't the government do anything to save our lives?" the frail looking man told PTI.
Ganga said "I sometime make bidis and work as a maid at the age of 55. We cannot arrange two square meals a day."
The couple has four adult sons who work as daily labourers.
District authorities said they would take up the matter with the Centre and officials would visit Halder's residence soon.