Kin of army martyrs continue to suffer in silence
Gurdaspur, Apr 7: The families of soldiers killed in various counter-insurgency operations in the Kashmir valley or in the North East continue to live in penury despite periodic announcements by the Punjab government of providing relief to them.
While the state government has announced a number of welfare schemes for the families of martyrs or enhanced the one-time grant of gallantry award winners, the families whose sons have not won an award while fighting militants in anti-insurgency operations are yet to receive any help, either financially or in jobs for other members.
Though the Punjab government has claimed to have disbursed Rs 7.5 crore in the form of grants of Rs five lakh each to 145 families of martyrs who were killed in various army operations in the recent past but still there are many families who are yet to receive this grant and are living in pitiable conditions.
Sepoy Ravinder Singh, the only man of his family, was killed in action in the Kashmir valley in August 2004, but so far except for the relief provided by the army, the state government has not yet rendered any financial assistance nor delivered on its promise of providing a job to the eldest of his five sisters.
The father of Sepoy Karnail Singh of Chinna village, who was killed in action in Asom in 1997 was paralysed when he heard the news. Whatever compensation the army provided was grabbed by his widow, who left her father-in-law all alone in the care of his younger son, who was also promised a job by the government. However, this has not materialised upto now.
The Punjab government had declared it would develop the villages of martyrs as heritage sites and erect suitable memorials in their memory but not even a single brick has been laid in Bulle Chak village in memory of Sepoy Arjun Salaria, who laid down his life while fighting the militants in the Kashmir valley in August 2003, and was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra. His father Thakur Baldev Singh is still hopeful that the government will come forward to erect a memorial to honour his son.
The apathy on the part of civil officals can be judged from the fact that when on January 28 this year, the dead body of Sepoy Gurdev Singh, wrapped in the national tri-colour, was brought to his native village from the Siachen Glacier, not a single civil officer of the state government was present at Rorawali village to receive his body or offer condolences to the family members of the jawan.