36 hours on, sepoy refuses to budge

K Muthu, the 35-year-old sepoy in the Army, was perched on the platform 100 feet up a telecom tower near New Delhi railway station for the past 36 hours and has refused to climb down until Defence Minister A K Antony takes up his case.

A sepoy with 69 Engineers Regiment based in Kota, he climbed the tower at the Ajmeri Gate end of the station around 12.30 pm on Friday. "I want to meet the Defence Minister. I will come down only if I'm allowed to meet the minister," he said on Saturday.

Colleagues from his unit are taking turns to be with him on the platform and are trying to convince him.

Muthu, from Tuticorin district in Tamil Nadu, said Antony should grant him a fair hearing or allow him to be discharged from service.

He has alleged that his seniors had denied him leave and he was transferred five times in five years.

"This is not a problem faced by me alone. I'm presenting the problems faced by many jawans in the Army," he said.

Dismissing the allegations , an Army officer said: "Muthu has taken more leave than he is entitled to. In fact, he would be given a fair chance to present his case once he comes down."

The officer said Muthu, who did a similar "Sholay stunt" in Bangalore last year, was drinking water and juice, but has refused solid food. "He slept last night. I'm sure he doesn't have to deal with mosquitoes up there," he said.

The Army, however, chose to remain patient. "We have to win his trust. We cannot stop negotiating," the officer said.

"I spent nearly four hours with him, but he is not prepared to end his protest," a colleague from his regiment said.

... contd.

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