As the country is celebrating 50 years of its victory over Pakistan in the 1965 war, the families of some soldiers who fought against the enemy in various wars without caring for their lives are battling for three square meals a day.
Due to the apathy of the government, which provides crores of rupees and jobs to the sports medallists, members of the family of Vir Chakra awardee Jai Pal, who was wounded in IndiaPakistan conflict in 1948 and died in December 1973, depend on 1.5 acre of agricultural land and Rs 3,500 monthly pension of his 80-year old widow Nahno Devi.
VIR CHAKRA AWARDEE’S WIDOW LIVES IN DILAPIDATED HOUSE
Nahno lives with her elder son Ishwar in their old house, which is in a dilapidated condition, at Ridhau village in Sonepat district.
Nahno’s younger son Jagbir died in 2005, leaving behind wife, a son and three daughters. They have a small piece of land and sell milk for their living.
Jaipal had joined as sepoy in the Jat Regiment of the army before Independence in 1944. He received serious injury during 1948 conflict with Pakistan and was declared disabled. He was awarded with Vir Chakra. He was invalided out of the army in Septmber 1950 and got disability pension from September 3, 1950 to September 2, 1951, after which his pension was stopped and he died in December 1973.
FIGHTING FOR FAMILY PENSION
Nahno has been fighting for family pension in Armed Forces Tribunal, Chandigarh, for the past two years. Nahno’s advocate Surinder Sheoran said, “The controller of defence accounts (pensions) had, on February 10, 2014, decided that those invalided and whose disability was below 20% will also be entitled to family pension. We are fighting our case on the basis of new directions”.
“My husband received serious injury during the war and could not join the army again. For his bravery, he was awarded Vir Chakra, for which I get Rs 3,500 per month”, Nahno told Hindustan Times.
“We are fighting our case for other benefits I am entitled to, but I don’t know when we will get these benefits,” she added.
She said, “Nobody visited our house during the past 40 years. I was called by late prime minister Indira Gandhi who gave me Rs 50,000.
After that we were not invited to any government function”. She added, “I have somehow spent my life, but I don’t know what will happen to my grandchildren, who have nothing to depend on”.
WAR HERO STRIVES TO FEED HIS FAMILY
Similarly, Havildar Budh Singh (retired), who was awarded the Vir Chakra for the valour shown in the 1965 war against Pakistan, is now living in a small house with his grandson and daughter-in-law in his native village of Aghiar in Mahendergarh district.
As his two sons live separately, Budh Singh takes care of the family of his youngest son Subhash, who died a few years ago.
Though he gets Rs 26,000 monthly from both the Centre and the state government, the condition of his family is not very good as Budh Ram has to repay his loans, which he took for the construction of a two-room house for his grandson and a small room for himself.
Born on February 14, 1944 in Mahendergarh district, Budh Singh joined the 4 Rajputana regiment of the army in 1962 when he was 18.
Though he could not receive formal education, his childhood dream was to join the army and fight for the country. He also participated in the 1971 war against Pakistan.
Even as he has to struggle hard for the livelihood of his family, this brave soldier does not have any complaint against the government. “What the government can do for us? We fought for the country as it was our duty,” he said while talking to HT.
Asked for his opinion on the ongoing protest for early implementation of ‘one rank, one pension’ (OROP) scheme, he said, “I don’t attend any protest on this issue, but I want to say only one thing that the leader of the country should keep his promise to keep the faith of the people in the government intact”.