A book, ‘Maimed by the System’, written by Navdeep Singh, a practicing advocate in Punjab and Haryana High Court, was released on Tuesday by former Chief of Army Staff, General V P Malik.
The book has a collection of real life accounts of defence personnel, military veterans, disabled soldiers and their kin who were wronged by the system but fought and successfully claimed their rights and dues.
One of such story is that of a 90-year-old widow, Surjit Kaur, whose husband was declared Burmese by the Indian Army’s record office as Razmak, a place in Pakistan, was made a part of Burma.
“Surjit Kaur’s husband, late Sepoy Sital Singh, was with the Punjab Regiment and he died during World War II in Razmak.The pension to his widow was suddenly stopped, and the reason given was that her husband had never been with the Indian Army, but with the Burmese Army,” the author narrated.
He continued, “As the sepoy was serving in the 5th battalion (Burma), the authorities assumed that he was a Burmese soldier. The fact that the sepoy had been killed in Razmak also made up for his non-Indian identity.”
However, the judges of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Chandigarh bench, took up the issue with the Central government and relief was later on provided to the widow.
“Just to deny the claim of the poor 90-year- old widow, the men in uniform said it on affidavit that Razmak is in Burma. This is what pains us,” the author said.
General V P Malik said, “I feel ashamed and depressed to be a part of such a system (Ministry of Defence and Indian Army), which has been corrupted by babus. It is sad to see how a large number of veterans and widows are not getting their dues.”
He added, “A lot has to be done to improve the system and the book reflects on that through these stories.”