‘No one cares... soldiers in India are neglected lot’

Balbir Kaur

Talk about the 1947 India-Pakistan war, and the face of the otherwise peaky Naib Subedar Surjan Singh lights up. The 98-year-old Vir Chakra awardee could bravely stand the two bullet injuries he suffered during the war.

What he could not stand is the suffering post-war.

Complaining of neglect by the government, Surjan Singh laments that his services have been forgotten by the administration. "Nobody cares for us. Soldiers in India are a neglected lot," said Singh, a resident of Sangrur who was in town to attend the War Decorated India (WDI) Triennial National Convention-cum-reunion 2013 programme.

His anguish was shared by 93-year-old Balbir Kaur, widow of the late Major S M S Brar who was honoured with Mahavir Chakra for his gallantry in 1948. The 93-year-old, a local, was also honoured, amongst others, by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

"For long we have been writing to the state government to pitch in for constructing a memorial in the memory of Major Brar but to no avail," said Rubinderjit Brar, nephew of Balbir Kaur. "Having received no support from the government, we are constructing a memorial on our own in Moga."

Similar was the discontent amongst others who were at the convention. Though thanking the association of War Decorated India (WDI), the war heroes and their families demanded that the government should pay extra attention towards those soldiers who lack the financial wherewithal for a decent existence. Waking up the government authorities for fulfilling basic demands of retired Army officers had become a Sisyphean task, complained the relatives and war veterans.

A native of Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh, Captain Roop Lal, who lost his leg during the 1971 war, had few memories to share. Stating that society lacks respect for Army officials, Roop Lal is proud that he rendered service to his nation and has no regret that he lost his leg.

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