1962 martyr's family still hoping for govt aid

The family of a battle martyr, who was posthumously awarded the highest Indian military award for valour, the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), wants to know if the sacrifice of a brave soldier is any less or more than Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh who was killed in Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat jail after spending decades behind bars.  

Their lament is not without reason. Sarabjit Singh’s family back home in Punjab got lakhs of rupees, a gas agency and government jobs after his death, but the family of Subedar Joginder Singh says all they got were promises. 

Subedar Joginder Singh attained martyrdom during the Chinese aggression 51 years ago and was awarded the PVC posthumously for displaying exceptional bravery and courage on the battlefield. 

His daughter Kulwant Kaur says their family was promised land, house and vehicle and more after her father fell to enemy bullets. “My mother was given only Rs 10,000 and promises after she was widowed,” she rued.

Kaur, who was just a year old when she lost her father, said her mother repeatedly approached government offices seeking a petrol pump permit or a gas agency to sustain a life without a breadwinner. Nothing came their way. 

The mother died four years ago. Along with her died all her hopes and promises, she said. A ceremony, participated by Kulwant Kaur, to observe the 51st death anniversary of Subedar Jogender Singh was held in Punjab’s Moga district on Wednesday.

The family’s story raises several questions. Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, too, was declared a martyr. His family deservingly got huge support, financially and emotionally, after the tragedy. But the sacrifice of the likes of Subedar Joginder Singh are far more greater and sacrosanct by any standard and deserve more, she said. 

The Subedar’s daughter says the statue of her father was kept in a storeroom for five years and it was only at the instance of then chief minister of Punjab Giani Zail Singh that it was placed near the bus stand in 1975. It was thereafter that the family was given 15 acres in a village in Faridkot.

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