JAMMU, July 20: Hundreds of ex-Army porters, who were left “unemployed” after Kargil war, today staged a protest at Exhibition Ground and appealed the Centre and State Governments to absorb them as they were at the verge of starvation.
“We were enrolled by the Army as Porters during the Kargil War (Operation Vijay) in June-July 1999 and employed to carry war like stores and ammunition. A total of 6 Porter Companies were raised by HQ Northern Command for ‘Operation Vijay’. On the call of the nation, many young men from Jammu, Ladakh, Pathankot and Nepal volunteered to serve the nation during Kargil War despite gravest risk of life,” said ex-Army porters who were protesting under the aegis of All India porters Union.
The agitators said that they served in most difficult terrain in Kargil area along with regular army troops but they were released from their duties in November-December 1999. Seven porters including 5 Dogras, one Ladakhi and one Nepali, were martyred by enemy fire while performing their duties and three of them were from one family of Kaloh-Mansar (Samba). The martyred porters were cremated with full military honours and each was paid Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia by the Army.
“Besides, more than 20 porters were wounded while performing their duties and many of them were enrolled by the Army as civilians,” they said, adding two special recruitment rallies were held for the porters at Tanda (Akhnoor) and Salaria Square (Udhampur) wherein many eligible porters were enrolled in the Army.
The protesting men said that the rest of the porters were not considered for any recognition, resettlement or compensation despite various representations. “Some of us who went to Court, got Government jobs while 279 of us are still waiting to be employed on the basis of J&K High Court verdict dated 26 May, 2017,” they added and appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene personally to provide jobs to 279 Kargil porters.