In a display of apathy towards a school teacher mother who had to take leave to take care of her son who suffered lifelong crippling injury while under training as a Cadet in National Defence Academy (NDA), the Karnataka Accountant General’s Department (A&E) has questioned the sanction of leave for her.
A letter of the AG department of Karnataka dated October 21 written to the Deputy Director of Public Instruction Dharwad regarding Bharathi M Joshi, head master at a government school in Yaraguppi in Kundagol Taluk of Dharwad district was shared in the social media by former NDA Cadet Ankur Chaturvedi, who was himself medically boarded out of NDA after suffering an injury during the fag end of his training.
The letter questions the authority vide which 360 days of child care leave was sanctioned to Bharathi from April 13, 2021 to April 7, 2022. It points out that this is in violation to existing rules and regulations. The letter further seeks details of the recovery of excess pay and allowances paid to Bharathi during this period.
“Cdt Kishan Kulkarni got disabled while training at the National Defense Academy and sent home crippled in May 22. No benefits have been provided to him, now his mother gets this letter from the heartless system. Request @CMofKarnataka @narendramodi to please intervene!” said the tweet by Ankur Chaturvedi.
The Twitter post of Chaturvedi drew harsh comments from veterans, including former Chief of Army Staff General VP Malik (retd). Chaturvedi also posted the letter issued by the Karnataka AG department along with photographs showing Cadet KS Kulkarni looking fit under training and another where he is looking visibly weak and in a wheelchair being tended to by his mother.
General Malik, who in the past too has been demanding better disability emoluments for disabled officer trainees, reacted to the post by claiming the development to be “heartless”.
“This is heartless indeed. Hope we can do something for the family. Her son returned from NDA after a very serious injury during training,” he tweeted tagging PMO, Karnataka Government and defence minister Rajnath Singh.
The tweet has generated a lot of angst among the veterans in social media who have spoken up for rules to be amended to allow Bharathi Joshi to tend to her disabled son. Cadet Kishan Kulkarni is the only child of his mother.
Cadet Kulkarni was in the fourth term of NDA when he was found unconscious in his cabin in 2021. He was rushed to the military hospital where he was revived but because his brain did not receive oxygen for a crucial period of time he was left severely severely damaged. An inquiry was conducted by NDA authorities on the incident but the outcome of the same has not been made public.
The cadet was finally withdrawn from training at NDA in April 2022 after having spent several months under treatment at Command Hospital Pune where his mother was by his side.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Bharathi Joshi said that her son was in an almost vegetative state after being revived in the military hospital and his weight had drastically reduced. “He almost looked like a skeleton at one point of time but now with a lot of care and effort he has improved but his brain faculties are severely damaged,” she said.
She added that as per KCSR rules she is not entitled to increment during her leave period and though this was given to her she will now have to return it as per rules.
“However, my humble request to the government is to extend my leave for child care to another 370 days because as per rules government officials with children who are mentally retarded and fully disabled are entitled to 730 days of leave. I want to take care of my son until he is able to get back to his feet and able to walk,” she said.
She also requested for a transfer from Dharwad to Hubballi, where she resides, as she has to travel nearly 60 km everyday to the school where she is posted. “In addition I also request the military to fast track the paper work to clear the pension amount for my son that would help us with medical expenses,” she said.
When contacted, Shanmukhaswamy Keladimath, deputy director of public instruction, Dharwad district, said, “We have sanctioned the headmistress for her leave as per the KCSR rules. However, the government official is not entitled to any sort of increment during the leave period. As a result, the official has to pay back the increment amount paid to her during the course of her one year leave.”
(With inputs from TA Johnson, Bangaluru)