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    Why celebrate 1971 War victory over Pakistan when we have failed our heroes?

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    Why celebrate 1971 War victory over Pakistan when we have failed our heroes?

    Is it fair to discriminate against these men and women?

     

    By Jugal R Purohit

    As celebrates her finest hour of valour, the 45th anniversary of splitting Pakistan and helping create Bangladesh, anyone who is someone has praise to offer for our armed forces.

    No attention, however, is paid to a little-known reality that hits our heroes, both in the military and the paramilitary, hard.

    “Most conspicuous bravery” is the catchphrase when it comes to being eligible for the “Param Vir Chakra” (PVC), India's highest gallantry award. Is it fair then to discriminate against these men and women who through their actions and sacrifices attain such heights in the service of the nation?

    I do not think there is even a debate on this. And yet the treatment is nothing but unfair.

    To simplify my point, here is an example: Two officers of the Indian Army, one from and the other from Gujarat, lead a daring operation, neutralise their enemy and achieve their goal.

    For their “most conspicuous bravery”, the government decides to award them with the PVC. Their regional identities are mentioned because the policy as on date says the officer from Haryana will receive Rs 31,00,000 in terms of cash compensation from his state, whereas the one from Gujarat will have to make do with Rs 22,500 only. There are two other categories of awards, annuity and cash in lieu of land and there too the discrimination persists.

    This loophole extends and eclipses other gallantry and service awards like Ashok Chakra, Vir Chakra, Yudh Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal and Sena Medal, among others.

    There is a consistent pattern where states like Haryana, , Rajasthan, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, among others, offer the best of terms to the awardees whereas states like Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and those from the North-East offer awful terms.

    In fact, the state of Meghalaya offers nothing at all! West Bengal too offers nothing to those awarded with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal!

    Why so?

    This is because it is mentioned in a 26-page booklet titled “Monetary Allowances & Other Benefits By Central/State Governments For Gallantry & Distinguished Service Awards”. This ministry of (MoD) document, people aware of the matter say, is among the most discriminatory of documents.

    “You want to divide your nationally recognised brave men and women into regional identities? Does no one understand the impact such disparities have?” asked a source.

    It was informed that while the ministry has been fighting a battle to bring the states to a common point, it has had no success. An awarded pilot who recently faced this said, “I had never imagined I would face something as distasteful. Hope this is rectified at the earliest.”

    Colonel Anil Kaul (retd), a Vir Chakra awardee whose contribution to the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka saved many lives, said: “The Centre too isn't without blame. Despite being fully aware of inflation, it steadfastly refuses to revise its monthly cash award which remains frozen in 2008. I hope Parliament can intervene and rectify.”

     

    (The writer is a senior special correspondent for India Today)

     

    Northlines
    Northlines
    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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