The family members of 'Shaurya Chakra' awardee Lt Joga Singh, who laid his life while fighting with militants on October 21, 1998 in 'Operation Rakshak' in Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, have been running from pillar to post for government job for past six years.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Gulshan Singh, son of martyr Lt Joga Singh said that government issued a notification about 'Honour and Gratitude Policy' on August 19, 1999 which stated to offer appointments to the widows and next-of-kin of war heroes who were killed on or after January 1, 1999 (including gallantry awardee and non- gallantry awardee) during fighting a war or any operation.
He said that after some time, government issued another circular on June 27, 2000 under which dependents of awardee martyrs posthumously decorated with Paramvir Chakra, Mahavir Chakra or Vir Chakra before January 1, 1999 were also made eligible for job assistance under Honour and Gratitude Policy.
Into this policy, the government also kept a provision to include other category of awardee for the purpose of providing employment to the category of war heroes, he said.
He accused that due to this notification, the awardee martyrs decorated with Ashok Chakra and Shaurya Chakra were totally ignored which were as parallel to others Vir Chakra series.
He questioned that when state government has been offering similar benefits to all gallantry awardee into other its policies regarding sacrifices of decorated awardee martyrs then, why it discriminated them under Honour and Gratitude Policy.
Gulshan further revealed, "This discrimination came to light when he secured information under Right to Information Act from Sainik Welfare department that next-of-kins of four Vir Chakra awardee martyrs, who laid down their lives much before January 1, 1999 were given employments by government in separate years".
Gulshan Singh demanded immediate amendment into this policy to benefit family members of all martyrs who laid their lives before January 1, 1999.
He said that he was only earning hand to mouth and that his family has been facing huge financial crisis. He said that he had applied for job in 2007 for government job as he was just 11 at the time of his father's death.
The Jalandhar district Sainik Welfare officer had also written to department's higher authorities with recommendation of a government job to Gulshan Singh, considering fiscal condition of family on January 11, 2008 but the higher authorities denied to giving job citing reason of government's policy.
When HT contacted, Sainik Welfare department's director Manjeet Singh said, "I am aware about this case and stated that government's has not any policy to give employment to kin of soldiers who laid their lives for integrity of country before January 1, 1999.
He also said that the 'Honour and Gratitude Policy' was formed after Kargil operation by state government in 1999.
When asked about department had given employments to kin of four Vir Chakra awardee martyrs who laid their lives much before January 1, 1999 as mentioned under RTI's reply to Gulshan, director Singh thoroughly denied this and said that it is wrong information.
However, he said that department has taken up the issue with government to amend the policy to give benefits to families of all servicemen who laid lives before January 1, 1999.