Reality bites: Slain soldiers & photo-ops

Although lofty announcements are made when soldiers die in the line of duty, families of ‘martyrs’ end up as victims of official neglect while getting the government promises fulfilled over the years

PTI
PTI

Ashutosh Sharma

In January 2013 when Lance Naik Hemraj was killed and beheaded on the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch sector, Jammu and Kashmir, there was widespread outrage.

The then Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and other BJP leaders asked for 10 heads from Pakistan. The party criticised “weak” Manmohan Singh government, invoking patriotism.

Six years after the incident, Hemraj’s family feels betrayed by the BJP. “For the last four and a half years, I have been trying to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But I have not got an opportunity so far. The BJP government hasn’t done anything for us,” Jaiveer, brother of Hemraj, told National Herald this week, four days after the Pulwama attack.

The promise of allotting a petrol pump, setting up a memorial and a school in the village, Sher Nagar in Mathura remain unfulfilled. “Within ten km radius of the village there is no school or a hospital,” he lamented. In early January, Hemraj’s wife was served a notice to vacate her accommodation in Mathura Cantt. After a media outcry, the notice was kept in abeyance.

“We built a memorial on our own. But the government could not even get a boundary wall constructed,” said Jaiveer, adding that “It hurts me to see that the place is frequented by stray cattle and villagers use the place to dry cowdung cakes.”

Lance Naik Hemraj
Lance Naik Hemraj

In September last year, a young boy Mohit Dahiya was seen sobbing on TV channel Aaj Tak. His father, Border Security Force (BSF) head-constable Narender Kumar’s bullet-ridden, mutilated body was found on the zero line. On TV, he asked, “My father laid down his life on duty for the country. But there is no statement (from the government). I have my mother and a small brother. Now please tell me one thing. Should I hunt for a job or look after my grieving mother?”

Ironically, ruling party’s spokesperson Sambit Patra, who was on the panel, despite being urged by anchor Rohit Sardana couldn’t give even an oral assurance of rehabilitation to the slain soldier’s son.

A screengrab of the panel discussion on Aaj Tak showing Mohit Dahiya and Sambit Patra.
A screengrab of the panel discussion on Aaj Tak showing Mohit Dahiya and Sambit Patra.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan Jitendra Singh Kushwaha was killed in a Maoist attack in Sukma (Chhattisgarh) on March 13, 2018 in an IED blast. When his mortal remains reached Chambal, the then Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore besides dedicating a public park in his name. Neither the park has come up nor his old parents have received the promised compensation so far.

In December 2017, the daughter of a BSF jawan killed in Srinagar Rupal Tadvi, a 26-year-old tribal woman, rushed to meet Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani while he was addressing a rally at Kevadia Colony in December, 2017. Before she could reach the CM, she was taken away by women police officials. She alleged that the government did not allot her family the piece of land that they had been promised after the demise of her father Ashok Tadvi.

A screengrab showing police personnel forcibly evict Rupal Tadvi from Chief Minister’s rally.
A screengrab showing police personnel forcibly evict Rupal Tadvi from Chief Minister’s rally.

In December 2017, a martyr’s mother in her 60s, was detained by the Local Crime Branch in Ahmedabad when she tried to reach out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a rally. Her daughter was whisked away by officials present on the occasion.

Surendranagar resident Amina Banu, who lost her son Multani Basir Ahmed in the line of duty in Indian Army in 2007 was demanding financial compensation. “She was looking forward to a piece of land so that she could open a canteen. She had visited the Secretariat in Gandhinagar several times but all attempts proved futile,” Anwar Khan, a close relative of Amina, was quoted in the media as saying.

Amina Banu, mother of Multani Basir Ahmed who was killed in the line of duty in 2007.
Amina Banu, mother of Multani Basir Ahmed who was killed in the line of duty in 2007.
Courtesy: Ahmedabad Mirror

The family of Vikas Bhardwaj, one among 18 soldiers of 6 Dogra Regiment killed in an ambush attack by militants on their convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district in June 2015, feels disillusioned today.

The promised road to the village in the name of the departed soldier Vikas Bhardwaj has been abandoned in Lad Bharol tehsil in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh. The work on a bridge for connecting the village hasn’t even started.

PTI
PTI
Paramilitary forces standing around the Army convoy vehicle that was ambushed by militants in one of the worst attacks suffered by the Indian Army in a decade, in Manipur’s Chandel district in 2015.

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