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PVC winner gets princely pension of Rs 166
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 7
Over 6400 metres above sea level, in the heights of the Siachen Glacier, is Bana Post. It is named after Naib Subedar Bana Singh. The tale of how this gallant warrior and his fellow soldiers of the 8 J&K Light Infantry took from the Pakistanis what was then called Qaid Post is part of Indian Army lore.

After the fall of the post in 1987, following deadly hand-to-hand fighting, Benazir Bhutto reportedly told General Zia-ul-Haq to wear “chudiyan.” For years later, Pakistan tried, in vain, to retake Bana post.

Naib Subedar Bana Singh, from Katyal in Ranbirsinghpura near the Pakistan border, a few kilometers from Jammu, was given Param Vir Chakra, the highest gallantry award.

But how does the state treat the man himself? All he gets is a measly state government annuity of Rs 2000 that comes to Rs.166.66 per month.

Compare this with what a Pakistan-backed terrorist gets after he surrenders, even if he has been involved in killing of innocent people – a monthly allowance of Rs 2000, apart from several other incentives. A PVC in neighbouring Punjab is worth Rs 12,500 per month.

The tale of Bana Singh is a classic example of the humiliation of gallantry award winners by the J&K government. Soldiers here are fuming at this and the cries of various organisations of soldiers to hike the incentives have fallen on deaf ears of successive governments.

A recipient of the PVC in J&K, besides the annuity, gets a one-time cash grant of Rs 22500 and a sum of Rs.1.50 lakh in lieu of land. But a surrendered terrorist gets, besides a sum of Rs.1.50 lakh in lieu of land. But a surrendered terrorist gets, besides a monthly allowance of Rs 2000, a fabulous fixed deposit of Rs.1.50 lakh that is encashable after three years.

On the other hand, PVC recipients in neighbouring Punjab receives a monthly pension of Rs.12500 from the state government besides a cash grant of Rs.25 lakh in lieu of land, notes a senior ex-serviceman.

The rehabilitation policy for terrorists provides for free-of-cost vocational training. The surrendered ultras who desire to set up self-employment projects get 10 per cent margin money. Fifteen per cent promoters’ contribution is borne by the state government. The remaining 75 percent amount is raised as a bank loan up to a maximum of Rs 2.50 lakh.

However, a higher limit is considered in case the surrendered militant desires to own trucks of any type. They are entitled to an interest subsidy of 100 percent for the first six months, 75 per cent during the next one year and 50 per cent in the next six months.

Ironically, the state government has not come up with any such scheme for rehabilitation of the soldiers who retire and come back home at the young age of between 33 and 40 when they are loaded with the added responsibility of looking after their parents and other family members.

Brigadier (Retd) K.S.Kotwal, director of state sainik welfare, however claimed that the state government was taking care of ex-servicemen. A total annual relief of Rs.1.25 crores was being paid to the veterans of the J&K Militia.

A big chunk of former soldiers dispute his claim and point out that it was only the ex-soldiers of the Militia who were being looked after by the state government because most of them belonged to the Kashmir valley. Those belonging to other regiments were discriminated against.

Major General (Retd.) Goverdhan Singh Jamwal, president of the J&K ex-servicemen league laments that the J&K government has not reserved any jobs for ex-servicemen. The reservation of 5 per cent jobs in non-gazetted class III posts and 10 per cent for class IV posts was scrapped in 1994. However, a horizontal reservation of 6 per cent in non-gazetted jobs was announced in 2002, but the rule has not been implemented so far.

Maj.Gen.(Retd) Jamwal says that not a single ex-serviceman has been recruited by the state government during the past many years.

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