Wounds of war not healed by time

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Martyr’s kin hail govt support

Eighteen years after Ajaib Singh of Jahangir village, near Verka, sacrificed his life in the Kargil war, his memory is still fresh in the minds of kin and villagers. The family thanks officials of Sikh Regiment, who have still maintained contact with them and frequently ask about their well-being.  Ajaib attained martyrdom on July 7, 1999 while fighting with Pakistan-backed intruders on Tiger Hill. Manjit Kaur, his wife, appears satisfied with the benefits and honour the government has offered. The family has got licence to run a gas agency. Manjit Kaur runs the agency while Ravinder Singh, the only son of Ajaib Singh, has completed his graduation and planning to migrate.

The Education Department named the government school in the village after Ajaib Singh’s name. Youngsters have formed Shaheed Ajaib Singh Sports Club Jahangir and organise annual tournaments. The family helps the club organise tournaments.

“I am proud of my father. People respect me because I am a martyr’s son. The July month makes me emotional. I encourage youth to work for the nation and stay away from drugs,” says Ravinder.

“The Army holds several functions to remember martyrs and we attend the same,” he adds. Charanjit Teja


‘He was to be married soon’

Balwant Singh was only 22 when martyred. He was born on May 2, 1977, at Waraich village near Raikot. He joined the Army on August 26, 1996. On September 15, 1999, in the RS Pura Sector of J&K, when he was heading towards 80-foot-high tower on Kargil peaks, he sacrificed his life for his country.

The family that was looking forward to their son’s wedding was shell shocked when the news of his death came. Balwant Singh was engaged to a girl selected by his family.

His mother Amarjit Kaur says, with a tinge of pain: “Though he had promised us that he would return after the war, he kept his word with the motherland. We feel his presence around us whenever we see or touch his uniform and photographs.”

The mother recalls fondly that her son was considered an expert in medium machinegun operation.

The family maintains the memorial in their son’s name at the village and organises functions every year on his martyrdom day. Besides, they give awards to outstanding students of Balwant Memorial Government School. The family’s daily routine starts with a visit to the martyr’s memorial in the morning.


Mattu’s family rues govt apathy

“A martyr is remembered only for a few days. Later, the government don’t care a hoot,” feels Inder Singh, father of Lance Naik Amarjit Singh Mattu of Baba Bakala Sahib, who laid down his life in the Kargil war in 1999.

Inder Singh is also a retired Army personnel. He and his wife Balbir Kaur still remember those days when politicians, including the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, visited their home to eulogise the supreme sacrifice. The CM had announced that a statue of the martyr would be installed at the bus stand. Besides, a large gate was to be installed in the memory of Amarjit Singh Mattu. But the promises haven’t been fulfilled, rues Inder Singh.

According to family, people seem to have forgotten Mattu as very few kin and friends visit them when prayer is organised on May 3 every year.

Inder, who has been a part of Army operations in Mizoram and Sri Lanka, says the society should do more for the martyrs. We want their memory to be kept alive, he adds. — Manmeet Singh Gill


Kashmir issue saddens Rakesh’s kin

Though we have come to terms with the untimely death of my brother Naik Rakesh Kumar in the Kargil war, the brutal killings of Army men by militants in Kashmir leave us in pain, says Satish Kumar, elder brother of the martyr.

Why the successive governments have failed to find a solution to the problem till now and why appropriate reply is not given to the inimical forces within the country, he questions.

Rakesh Kumar (32), a commando with the Garhwal Rifles, was martyred on June 27, 1999.

The family tells he was a boxer and hockey player, and he got recruited in the Army after matriculation in 1984. After his death, his wife and two children settled in Delhi as she got recruited in Railways. The family received compensation and allotment of a gas agency, but the family preferred to stay in Delhi.

Satish, a textile trader, says the district administration installed a memorial stone and remaned a chowk near Civil Hospital as Shaheed Naik Rakesh Kumar Chowk, but it was dismantled during the construction of an elevated road. “After that, nobody took pains to reinstall it though the family offered funds. We feel bad over it,” he adds. — PK Jaiswar


Uncle motivated him to join Army

Uncle Joginder Singh Gill, who was the then district sports officer, motivated the young Sukhchain Singh of Ghudani Kalan in Payal sub-division to join the Army.

Martyr’s father Surjit Singh and mother Harjit Kaur are proud of their son’s bravery. “Our son is a shining star. His sacrifice will not go in vain,” said the father. Sukhchain Singh’s younger brother Harman Deep Singh interjects that he misses him. “Brothers are one’s strength. No one can take my brother’s place in my life.”

The family appreciates the civil administration for acknowledging the martyrs’ sacrifice, but regrets that the Sainik Welfare officials have stopped caring for the families of the martyrs.

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