heros and non heros of Punjab

CHANDIGARH: “If a soldier dies in action a minute past midnight of January 1, 1999, his family members are entitled for various monetary benefits and government jobs. But if another soldier in the same operation sacrifices his life a minute before the midnight, there is nothing for him,” said son of a Colonel who died during Operation Rakshak in 1995. Punjab’s policy of ‘honour and gratitude’, which was formulated to offer monetary support for the kin of martyrs, fails to recognise the martyrdom of those who laid down their lives before January 1, 1999. The policy defines ‘war hero’ as a soldier killed or disabled in action post January 1, 1999 and hence extends monetary benefits and government jobs to the relatives of only. The soldiers, who died during the operation Rakshak, but before the Cut- off time drawn by the policy, are not war hero or martyr but ‘soldier killed in action.” According to the Punjab Sainik Welfare Board, there are more than 1,500 soldiers from the state who have died in action before the 1999. According to the Director, Sainik Welfare Board, Brig. I S Gakhal, “The government had to draw a line somewhere, if we try to trace sacrifices made by Punjabi soldiers then we will have to go up to World War I and II. How back can we go?” Known as the “sword arm of Indian Army”, the state of Punjab has seen a decrease in the recruitments in the Indian Army, while the Sainik Board attributes this to consumerism and lust of the private sector, families who wait that their martyrs be recognized, blame it on the discouraging policies. Gakhal added that those who sacrificed their lives for the country no lesser martyrs and we respect them, “We have send a composite report and requested that all the soldiers who have died after 1917 may be given the same benefits. Now it is for the government to respond.” In the present form the policy completely ignores the sacrifices made by soldiers killed or disabled in action before January 1, 1999. According to the kin of a ‘soldier killed in action’, “The date of sacrifice can’t define whether a soldier is a war hero or not. The merit of the sacrifice cannot be done away with by quoting a date.”

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