Pulwama Terror Attack: Must soldiers die?
Army officers have at different times shared their painful experiences on social media, how they are treated by media and what difficulties war widows face. Here are a few such experiences:
Major Devender Pal Singh, a Kargil war veteran, in a Facebook post wrote about his interaction with Zee News anchor Aditi Tyagi during a show where he was invited as a panellist. He was initially shouted down for objecting to talks of ‘revenge’.
“Before you shout out ‘revenge’, please ask other families, parents, wives and kids (of soldiers) if they are ready to see themselves without their hero (sons, husbands and fathers who are soldiers)? What will follow, he wrote, would be an unending loop of attacks, retaliations, revenge and more attacks. They would attack, we would avenge, then they would take their revenge and the cycle would continue, he wrote. “No one can imagine what it takes to lose life or limb. And then (make rounds of) courts to get justice and dues.”
Referring to the economic hardships that war widows and disabled soldiers have to encounter on a daily basis, he wrote, “We want soldiers to die but his widows to keep knocking on doors to get pension and rightful dues ( some are required to prove that their husbands are actually martyrs as the bodies were never found and widows were asked to produce the body before claiming pension).”
The former Army officer, who lives in Delhi, narrated his own experience after Kargil. Delhi government advised him to approach Uttar Pradesh government since his place of birth was Roorkee. In Lucknow he was told that since a new state of Uttarakhand had been carved out, he should visit Dehradun. In Uttarakhand he was told that the state had just come into being, rules were still being framed and funds were needed for various other things. In short, he could not be given the benefits that the Government had announced.
Singh tellingly asked in the studio, “Please tell me, who did I fight for? Did I fight for Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand? Or did I fight for India?”
In his Facebook post, he added, “ We want soldiers to die but the wounded ones need to go to court to get the correct pension (even I had fought for 7 years in Armed Forces Tribunal to prove that I am a war casualty to get my correct pension).”
He lamented that “There are 1000s cases pending in courts. (Despite SC judgements and instructions to withdraw unnecessary cases, Ministry of Defence is the biggest litigant).”
“We want soldiers to die but their children’s Education allowances are withdrawn by the Government as it imposes a burden on the government exchequer. (there are in total 3000 plus such cases only and total spending is just ₹3 crore per year) it took some effort to cancel the withdrawal notice and that was treated as a favour by the Raksha Mantri to widows. (Irony is she is also a female but couldn’t understand the pain of widows).