Almost a year after Subedar Baldev Kumar Sharma of the 29 Assam Rifles laid down his life in a militant ambush in Manipur’s Chandel, his family is yet to receive the entire amount promised as assistance by the government at the time of the tragedy. After the incident, politicians had made a beeline to the family’s home in village Marura, near Shah Talai in Bilaspur district, to meet Sharma’s wife Aruna Devi (48) to offer support. But the family now says that they feel “let down”.
Vivek Sharma (25), son of the slain soldier, said: “I am proud to be a martyr’s son, but do the politicians, who visited us for lip service, remember their words about standing by us. Col (Rtd) Dhani Ram Shandil, Cabinet minister, who came on behalf of the government, had announced Rs 5 lakh financial help. Only Rs 1.50 lakh has come to us till now, and for rest of the amount I have knocked on every door during past one year but in vain. I am feeling really let down.”
Vikas, who has done his MCom from the Himachal Pradesh University, added: “…the family had to pool-up resources from relatives and could hardly manage to send my 22-year-old sister, Priyanka, for her studies to Chandigarh. I have no job, and my mother has no fixed income, except what we received as arrears of my father’s service benefits.”
The reason given for turning down the request for equal financial assistance as for those from the Army was that para-military forces were governed by a different notification. But Vikas claimed that the Centre had already announced treating Army and para-military forces at par while giving relief to the families of those killed in fight against terrorists/Maoists.
In case of the recent recent Sukma ambush by Maoists, which resulted in loss of 25 CRPF personnel, two of them from Himachal Pradesh, the families have been given Rs 20 lakh relief.
“I am fighting for the dignity and honour of the family. No job has been offered to us as Chhattisgarh government did for its martyr family. Even relief of Rs five lakh announced by the minister…has been cut down to Rs 1.5 lakh,” Vivek said.
“My father wanted me to join Army as an officer, and had planned a teaching career for my sister. However, the dreams have crashed and now we wonder where fate will take us in absence of any support and backing,” he added. Vivek and his sister are now considering approaching Prime Minister Narendra Modi with their plea for help.
Apart from Subedar Sharma, five others of 29 Assam Rifles were killed in the attack that took place on May 22 last year.