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India’s first woman pilot beaten up by nephew
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
From being a highflier to come crashing into a life of virtual house arrest and being allegedly beaten by her brother’s son, the past years have been a misery for one of India’s first woman pilot.

Now 87, the widow of one of India’s pioneering aviators, Air Vice-Marshal Harjinder Singh, Ms Beant Kaur alleged that she and her younger sister, Ms Satwant Kaur, were being tortured over the past 10 years by her nephew, who she had adopted when he was four years old.

She has alleged that not only has her nephew and his family occupied her Sector 3 house, but has taken away all their possessions, including cash and jewellery.

In tears while speaking to The Tribune at one of their relatives house after “escape”, Ms Beant Kaur said that she and her sister had been kept in virtual captivity by her nephew and his wife in her own house and even relatives were not allowed to meet them. They had been relegated to one room, served bad food, abused and beaten regularly.

She said that passports, bank certificates, fixed deposit receipts and jewellery, totalling about Rs 18 lakh were taken away from them. She is even compelled to sign over vouchers for her husband’s pension and is given a paltry sum.

Air Vice-Marshal Harjinder Singh was the first Indian technical officer to join the IAF. A pilot as well as an engineer, he was Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh and IAF’s legend, Baba Mehar Singh’s compatriot. Instrumental in the indigenous production of the Avro transporters in India, he retired as AOC-in-C of the Maintenance Command in 1964 and then served as technical adviser to Punjab and Haryana Governments on a token salary of just Re 1 per annum. He died in November 1971 while giving a lecture at the DAV College here. An entire locality in Kanpur has been named as Harjinder Nagar after him.

Ms Beant Kaur had obtained her private pilot’s licence from Lucknow and often used to fly with her husband in a four-seater Bonanza which they owned. Her husband used to fly every morning before resuming his regular duties. Even former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru used to fly with him. The couple also donated an Oyster aircraft to the Punjab Engineering College here.

She said that her nephew, Col M S Bains (retd) had been living with her since he was four years old as she had no offspring of her own. After he sought premature retirement form the Army in 1993, he had been given a room to stay, but later he established his hold over the entire house.

Colonel Bains was not available for comment. There was no response from the two telephone numbers at his residence. Terming the issue to be a property dispute, the police said that they had received complaints from both sides and were investigating into the matter. The police said that Col Bains has alleged trespass by relatives who had “rescued” the two women.

Yesterday neighbours, on hearing screams, collectively went to the Sector 3 Police Station to lodge a complaint. According to the neighbours, a police team visited the house last night, but a lone policeman who went inside returned a few minutes later bearing the signatures of only Ms Beant Kaur that things were alright. Neighbours point out that it was Ms Satwant Kaur who had been beaten last night, a fact that she herself admits.

After the matter was brought to the notice of the higher authorities, the SHO, accompanied by other officials visited the two ladies at their relatives’ place in Sector 11 to record their statement today afternoon. They were also medically examined and have been prescribed some medicines.

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