Hyderabad: In what has embarrassed the Government of India, a non-pensioner war veteran from Telangana has, in a letter dated 24th July 2018, written to the President, seeking his permission to make an appeal to the governments of Pakistan and China for pension in order to meet their medical expenses. About 610 surviving war veterans complain that they have been neglected by the Indian government for over 30 years now.
The letter (in possession of this newspaper) by Captain L. Pandu Ranga Reddy addressed to President Ramnath Kovind stated, “Kindly treat this as a memorandum and save our souls. After such a long wait we are now looking up to the Ministry of Defence for extending (ECHS) medical benefits, but whose attitude and approach is more like that of a shopkeeper than that of a solider. It is as much use as looking for the crock of gold at the end of the Rainbow. Hence, we appeal to your Excellency as the Supreme Commander of the Armed forces to accord us permission to appeal for funds from Pakistan and China to cover our medical expenses.”
In 1962, India declared an emergency and urged the youth to join the armed forces in order to defend the country. Thousands responded to the call and fought against Chinese aggression between 1962 – 1965 and against Pakistan in 1971 as emergency commissioned officers. After their release from the forces, none of them has been given pension, medical benefits or other facilities enjoyed by retired armed service officials.
According to an RTI reply, there are 610 non-pension veterans across the country, of which 101-105 are from Telangana. Captain D. Vijay Kumar, IPS (retired) explained “Most of us are septuagenarians and have been suffering from a host of physical infirmities. The veterans have been knocking at the doors of the MoE for extension of ECHS (medical) facilities to non-pensioner war veterans. The Army has informed us that our case has been pending with the MoE for more than two years since the last letter was sent. It turned out to be a pie in the sky for the MoE.”
Another Major, T. Swamy (retired), added “The President is the Supreme Commander of the Armed forces and after completion of his 5-year term in Rashtrapati Bhavan, he is allocated pension and more. Secondly, ex-parliamentarians with just a one-year stint get a host of perks Why can’t emergency commissioned officers who defended the sovereignty of India by guarding the borders get such benefit?” The veterans pointed out that freedom fighters receive a pension and others benefits. “Non-pension war veterans do not benefit from the services rendered.”