In a tribute to the officers of armed forces on the occasion of the golden jubilee celebrations of the 1965 war with Pakistan, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday announced to give a special assistance of Rs 2,000 per month to war widows besides monthly pension.
He also extended them the facility of free bus passes across the state. Addressing a large gathering, in which a number of military personnel, both serving and retired were present, Badal said that his government was committed to ensure the welfare of the families of soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for the nation.
He paid tributes to the late Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, who chose to take on the Pakistani forces at Asal Uttar instead of pulling back his troops to the banks of the Beas in the war. The CM said that a nation's soldier should never be forgotten as he defends the borders so that his countrymen can sleep in peace. He pointed out that Punjab government was probably the only government in the country to hold first-of-its-kind function to pay homage to the armed forces.
He also reiterated the government's recent decision to enhance the one-time grant for the recipients of Param Vir Chakra from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 2 crore, Mahavir Chakra from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore and Vir Chakra from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 50 lakh.
Likewise, the travelling allowance for war widows has been increased from Rs 150 to Rs 500 per month, he said. Badal said ex-gratia amount for death during battle has been increased from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and in case of 75% disability from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4 lakh and similarly it had been increased the amount in case of 50 per cent disability.
Referring to the fall in the intake of youth from Punjab in the armed forces, the CM said the government has opened a network of C-Pyte centres to ensure that Punjabi youth trained in these centres get selected in armed forces. To ensure that a large number of Punjabis are selected as officers in the armed forces, the government had opened Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Preparatory Academy and Mai Bhago Armed Forces Institute, he said.
Earlier, the chief minister accompanied by cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia and chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha paid tribute to Abdul Hameed, the legendary martyr of 1965 war, at Asal Uttar village. Addressing the gathering, Lt Gen KJ Singh lauded the state government for organising the event to pay respect to the martyrs and heroes of the 1965 war. He said the war had infused a new spirit among all countrymen, who supported the army with all resources at their disposal.
Lt Gen Singh said India's spectacular victory in the battle of Asal Uttar was the real answer to the Pakistani Army's misadventure into the Indian side. Later, Badal honoured Ali Hassan and Junaid Aalam, sons of PVC winner Abdul Hamid and Harmala Kaur Gupta, daughter of Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh. A number of army personnel who had fought in the Khem Karan sector were also honoured.