A Passion for Service to Faujis

Yoginder Kandhari

Oh! The king of Magadha!
The day soldier
has to demand his dues
be the sad day for Magadha!
On that day,
you lost all moral sanction to be the king!
Kautilya, (also known as Chanakya, c. 350-275 BCE), advised his king thus. He was an Indian statesman and philosopher, chief advisor and Prime Minister to Indian Emperor Chandragupta, the first ruler of the Mauryan Empire.
Soldiers make supreme sacrifices for the nation; the bravest of the brave leave behind legends of valour that inspire future generations. Sacrifices are made unmindful of the fate of their families after they are gone. In event of their martyrdom, soldiers trust their Government and the society to look after their brave mothers, proud wives and their children. Unfortunately, this trust has mostly been betrayed by the very establishment on whose call soldiers put themselves in line of fire.Chankaya’s above maxim remains equally relevant in present day context too.
Even though awareness about entitlements is increasing amongst all ranks yet instances abound wherein families of these braves, especially those from rural or semi-urban background, continue to suffer profound neglect. Many families of brave soldiers, mostly illiterate and ignorant, have been reduced to penury. Supreme Court,upon hearing tales of callous indifference by the Government, so berated the Ministry of Defence as to shake it out of a deeps lumber. Financial assistance is not their only issue to be addressed. Academic and technical education of their wards, vocational training to Veer Naris and ESM and assistance to secure a fruitful and dignified employment are equally important to them.
Of late, the system seems to be turning a bit more responsive. Armed forces (AF) are also doing their best to ensure financial, educational and social wellbeing of Veer Naris/Widows/ESM.In line with their renewed efforts, AF have designated various formations as nodal agencies, throughout the country, to undertake this onerous task.
Punjab is one of the largest contributors of manpower to the AF. Indian military history is replete with numerous sagas of bravery by Punjabi soldiers. Hence, it is imperative for both,the State Government and AF, to institutionalize welfare measure for soldiers. While the State Government has announced several welfare schemes for the soldiers, AF too are not lagging- having established a network of ESM Cells throughout the entirelength and breadth of the state. One such cell is located at Jallandhar to cater to ESM of Hoshiarpur district. Colonel Jagdeep Singh has been designated as the Nodal Officer. Though Hoshiarpur is his official beat, his reputation, as a selfless worker in service of Veer Naris/Widows/ESM, has travelledfar beyond. He is often flooded with requests from across India.
That the choice of Nodal Officer fell on Colonel Jagdeep Singh is no coincidence. A daring officer that he is, Colonel Jagdeep Singh has participated in counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir in early 1990s, has taken part in Operation Vijay (Kargil) before returning to fight insurgents in the North East. Unfortunately, he sustained 100% disability- battle causality-during counter-insurgency operations in North East. A determined soldier who fought his disability bravely to don the uniform again after long and trying years in hospital. Colonel Jagdeep Singh, now a wheelchair ambulatory, is rendering a yeoman service to Veer Naris/Widows/ ESM. His noble deeds have often made bold headlines in newspapers.
Colonel Jagdeep is devoted to this sacred cause beyond call of his routine duty. He has admirably bridged the gap between announcements of various welfare schemes by the Government and their actual implementation on ground. In October 2016, Akali Dal Government in Punjab had announced a scheme to provide financial assistance to 103 widows of 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. This assistance was in lieu of an unkept promise, by an earlier Government, to allot 10 acres of agricultural land to each of these Veer Naris. Total outlay for this scheme was Rs. 40 CR.
Soon, however, Akali Dal lost power and Captain Amrinder Singh’s government was voted in. Colonel Jagdeep Singh went out of his official brief to pursue this case with the new Government to impress upon it to retain this scheme. Captain Amrinder Singh, a fauji himself, accepted Colonel Jagdeep Singh’s repeated requests to honour previous Government’s commitment to these Veer Naris. The officer did not rest until the scheme got going with release of part payment of Rs. 27.6 Cr to Veer Naris, mostly octogenarians. Colonel Jagdeep Singh has not let his guard down yet and is committed to pursue the scheme till its full implementation. A commendable job done by this wheelchair borne 100% disabled officer.
Colonel Jagdeep Singh enjoys a tremendous goodwill in corridors of power in Punjab. He has petitioned Captain Amrinder Singh to amend state’s existing job reservation policyto include wards of pre-1999 Awardees too. This proposal is under active consideration and the amendment is likely to be incorporated soon- benefiting around forty family members of pre-1999 gallantry awardee martyrs.
Over the past three years, Colonel Jagdeep Singh has settled more than two hundred cases of Veer Naris/Widows/ESM. In all such cases either the beneficiaries had not beenpaid dues/entitlements at all or hadbeen paid less. He has fully acquainted himself with rules governing entitlements of Veer Naris / Widows/ESM. All hold him to be an authority on the subject, peers and superiors alike. His grasp of the subject is so authoritative as to make rule-stickler CDA staff at to fall in line. Colonel Jagdeep Singh’s assistance is not restricted to settlement of claims and financial entitlements alone. He is more than willing to provide necessary assistance for vocational training, grant of educational scholarships, counselling for technical education etc. He has established contacts with many corporate houses in Punjab and elsewhere for job placement.
In last three years, Colonel Jagdeep Singh has ensured release of about Rs. 33 Cr to Veer Naris/Widows/ESM through his sustained efforts. Besides release of 27.6 Cr by Punjab Government to Veer Narisof 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars, other major heads under which claims/assistance were disbursed include, Rs. 4.9 Cr on account of release of pension arrears, settlement of insurance claims worth Rs.23.5 lakh, Rs.9.2 lakh as grant of educational scholarship towards of Veer Naris, financial assistance to non-pensioner widows amounting to Rs. 5.1 lakhs and issue of mobility equipment and financial assistance to physically challenged ESM and their wards worth 2.5 Lakhs.
There are many a tale where the beneficiaries were unaware of him working behind the scene to surprise them with credits worth lakhs in their accounts. It bespeaks of his selfless service towards welfare of faujis. A post from Colonel Y. S. Yadav on Social Media (pasted alongside) sums up his service to the sacred cause. Nothing encourages Colonel Jagdeep Singh more than a smile on a Veer Nari’s face.
Indeed, Colonel Jagdeep Singh personifies selfless service to a cause so dear to his heart.