The defence services welfare department has decided to amend the honour and gratitude policy to offer jobs to the widows and next of the kin of war heroes who won Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra as well.
Earlier, the families of the winners of these three gallantry awards were deprived of the benefit and had to struggle to get assistance from the state government. On July 25, HT had highlighted the plight of the family of Shaurya Chakra winner lieutenant Joga Singh, who had laid down his life fighting militants on October 21, 1998, during Operation Rakshak in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir.
For six years, the family had tried to get the government to amend the policy to be eligible for the job benefit. On August 23, Sainik welfare department director Manjeet Singh had written to the secretary of his department (copy with HT), seeking that the policy be amended to include the dependants in three new categories, to recognise the gallantry and martyrdom of the winners of Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra as parallel to the sacrifices of the Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra awardees.
He said the armed forces made no distinction between gallantry based on medal, so the misinterpretation outside should be stopped. On August 19, 1999, the state government had issued a notification about the "honour and gratitude policy", which stated to offer jobs to the widows and next of the kin of war heroes killed on or after January 1, 1999 (including soldiers who didn't' win gallantry awards), in any war or operation.
On June 27, 2000, came another circular, under which the dependents of the soldiers decorated with the PVC, MVC and VC posthumously before January 1, 1999, were eligible for job benefit. Gulshan Singh, son of lieutenant Joga Singh, had said that the notification had ignored the families of the winners of Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra, and Shaurya Chakra.
He pleaded that his family income was very little.