THE FAMILY of Subedar Teja Singh, killed during the 1987 Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka in 1987, did not get his body. Teja’s daughter Paramvir Kaur (37) and son Paramvir Singh (35) are unmarried. Paramvir Kaur said the family could never recover from the loss caused by the death of her father and it was one of the reasons that the two could not marry. Only Ashok Pal Singh, the youngest child of Teja Singh, is married and settled abroad. The family claimed that it only gets Rs 2.5 lakh after clearing Teja’s accounts with the Army.
To protest the alleged ignorance of governments on demand for jobs on compassionate grounds for her children, Teja’s widow Surinder Kaur had returned the Sena medal, given to her husband posthumously, in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ludhiana in November 2016. Then, the Congress had extended full support to her demands. Her family is no exception.
Now, the newly formed Congress government’s decision to provide job to Guriqbal Singh, grandson of late CM Beant Singh, killed in a blast carried out by Sikh militants, on compassionate grounds allegedly by flouting all rules and regulations has angered Surinder Kaur, her children and many such families. Guriqbal has been recruited in the rank of deputy superintendent of police.
“Beant Singh’s family is rich and politically influential. But, still his grandson has been given job on compassionate grounds. What about us? How is my father’s sacrifice for the country any less than that of Beant Singh? How is Beant Singh’s family more in need of a job than us?” asked Paramvir Kaur.
The state government had framed a policy to provide job to a family member of every soldier killed in the 1999 Kargil War. There was no provision to provide jobs to kin of soldiers killed before 1999.
Replying to an RTI in 2015, the Punjab government told Gurpreet Singh (37), who lost his father Chamkaur Singh during Operation Pawan that there was no policy to provide jobs to kin of soldiers killed before 1999. Doing a temporary job of assistant professor at a Ludhiana college, Gurpreet said, “All these years we were told that there is no policy to provide compensation or job to us. But I am surprised that the Punjab Cabinet ignored the rule book to give jobs to the second generation of former chief minister Beant Singh on compassionate grounds.” He added, “They (governments) always said that there is no policy to give us job. But since they have set an example, they should give us jobs. Congress had supported our protest before elections and now it is in a position to meet our demand. We hope Capt Amarinder Singh will treat the martyrdom of my father equally with that of former CM Beant Singh.”
Roop Singh (37), son of Kashmir Singh, has no permanent job. He is a Bhangra coach. His mother Surinder Kaur had also returned the medal given to her husband as her son was not given a job. “How is the loss of Guriqbal Singh different from mine? My father was killed in direct army action. Why am I not eligible for a job?” asked Roop Singh. “More than 50 soldiers were killed in Operation Pawan and after that till 1999. Next generation of these soldiers are still eligible for jobs and they are in the hope of being provided by the Punjab government. We have protested many times all these years. Many war widows have returned their medals. But, it didn’t bother any government. I have not seen Beant Singh’s grandson taking part in any protest. Yet, he gets priority.” Gulshan Sandhu (31) lost his father Joga Singh during Operation Rakshak in 1998. He was given Shaurya Chakra after death. Sandhu has turned into an RTI activist to ensure equal treatment for kin of soldiers killed after 1999. “I am filing RTIs to convince government that every family of martyr killed before or after 1999 should be treated equally,” said Gulshan.