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Honours,but no home,for 1971 war widows

Roopwati and Moorti Devi,who received the ‘Rashtriya Gaurav Samman’,speak of the troubles they face.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | New Delhi | Published: December 18, 2011 2:28:30 am

Sometimes it is a shawl,and on other days it is a watch or a white ‘chaadar’. They know that the people,who honour them with these gifts,certificates and words,respect them. Unfortunately,at the moment,that’s not what they need.

Roopwati and Moorti Devi are both war widows of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Hailing from Kahndsa in Gurgaon,they have been awarded time and again for the bravery of their husbands during the war. Roopwati’s husband,Naik Jagroop Singh,from 5 Rajput had lost his life in Kashmir on December 5,1971.

Devi’s husband Naik Zail Singh,on the other hand,lost his life on the Bangladesh border. Ironically,it was the shortest war in history that took away their lifelong companions. The two were presented the ‘Rashtriya Gaurav Samman’ by the National War Association on the occasion of Vijay Diwas,on Saturday.

Though Devi has three daughters and a son,she is forced to live alone because her children allegedly refuse to support her. Despite her insistence,her son refused to join the Army too. “I have rented a small room,where I live alone,” she says. Paying the rent with her pension,she barely makes ends meet. More than any award,she wants a house for herself.

Roopwati,on the other hand,carries an application to every award function,requesting the people concerned to giver her some land to build a house on. “They see my application,smile and never do anything about it,” she says.

Both complain that the widows of martyrs of the post-71 wars get better benefits than them. “We received Rs 16,000 from the government at that time. I married off my daughter with the money and was left with nothing,” says Moorti.

Her youngest daughter was two-and-a-half months old when her husband passed away.

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