New Delhi, Jan 24 (UNI) They became heroes of India for selflessly displaying exceptional courage in safeguarding the country's territorial integrity in the icy heights of Siachen and Kargil but the euphoria soon subsided and the state failed to recognise their exemplary achievements.
For two of the three living recepients of the Param Vir Chakra -- the country's highest bravery award -- Subedar Major and Honorary Captain Bana Singh and Rifleman Sanjay Kumar, their primary position in the Republic Day parade is scant comfort for the lack of recognition.
The former is yet to get the amount for the award winners from his state government, while the latter has not been officially promoted, despite the then Army Chief Gen V P Malik announcing it in January 2000.
Subedar Major and Honorary Captain (retd) Bana Singh of the 8 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry achieved a lasting place in the country's military annals when he evicted a force of enemy intruders at Saltoro ridge in the world's highest battlefield -- Siachen -- after a desperate hand-to-hand fight in the icy wastes in July 1987.
Conferred the PVC in Republic Day 1988, the intrepid soldier, who recently retired from the Army, offered to return his medal last month in protest against the indifferent attitude of the Jammu and Kashmir government in paying him his requisite dues.
Persistent pleas with the state government have not led to any thing materialising for him. In Punjab, a PVC winner gets Rs 12,500 every month, Rs 10,400 in Haryana and Rs 10,000 in Himachal Pradesh.
The J&K government had agreed to bring it at a par with Himachal government a few months ago, but no action had been taken yet.
However, it was the Punjab government during the regime of former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, which had announced a cash award of Rs 10 lakh in October 2006 for his outstanding courage and service to the country. The amount was given to him by Capt Singh's successor, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in March last year, while the J&K government had persistently failed to take action, even after his meeting Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad earlier last year.
Hony Capt Bana Singh will not participate in the parade this year.
For Rifleman (now Lance Naik) Sanjay Kumar of 13 JAKRIF, his outstanding courage in clearing the forbidding heights of Kargil of the Pakistan-supported intruders despite being wounded himself has not been adequately recognised by a ponderous military bureacracy. The soldier, who nonchalantly disregards his wounds or remembers the number of enemy he killed, is still only promoted by one rank and that too by his own seniority.
Gen Malik had then announced that the rifleman would be made a Havaldar (sergeant) and even asked him to wear the stripes of an NCO. But eight years and three Army Chiefs later, the requisite orders were not passed and he took off those stripes save one which he was entitled to -- by his time-bound promotion.
According to sources, the soldier also met the then Army Chief Gen J J Singh twice last year in this connection but despite assurances, he failed to get his due. It is understood that his file is still in the office of the Adjutant General, who has to sanction out of turn promotions.
''There is no scheme for out of turn promotions to bravery award recepients, even those who get the PVC, since most of the awards of it are made posthumously,'' they said.
UNI VD MSJ AS1429