Lashes out at Badal govt for neglecting martyrs, war widows
Bathinda, October 19, 2016: Castigating the Badal government for allowing such an important memorial to fall into total disrepair and failing to maintain its upkeep, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder on Wednesday morning took upon himself the task of cleaning up the neglected statue of VC and MVC decorated Subedar Nand Singh of the 1st Sikh regiment.
The revelry and celebration of Tuesday night gave way to an emotional morning in the Badal stronghold of Bathinda as Captain Amarinder led a large gathering of party workers and local residents in cleaning up the statue of one of India’s most valiant soldiers, who laid his life for the country in circumstances that defied all humanitarian and international rules of war.
Expressing deep anguish over the pitiable condition of the statue, which stands at Fauji (Shaheed) Chowk as a symbol of the Badals’ shameless disregard of the sacrifices made by our soldiers, Captain Amarinder said there was no point in setting up memorials and installing statues if the government could not ensure their proper maintenance.
He urged the Indian Army to take over the upkeep of such properties to prevent them from falling prey to gross negligence. “Our martyrs deserve no less,” he added.
Also himself hailing from the 1st Sikh regiment, Captain Amarinder described the condition of Nand Singh’s statue as “yet another glaring instance of how little the Badals care for our soldiers and their memories.”
Captain Amarinder, in whose book `Lest We Forget’ Nand Singh’s story finds detailed mention, recalled how, at the age of 33, this loyal solider of the Indian Army (by then a Jemadar who was not even required to go into the battle) chose to lead his platoon of D Coy in a desperate but successful attack to rescue his battalion from an ambush in Uri in Kashmir in December 1947. He was killed in action but his body was never recovered.
It was later discovered that the Pakistanis recognized Singh because of his decorated VC ribbon and took his body to Muzaffarabad, where, in the most abominable manner, “it was tied spreadeagled on a truck and paraded through the city with a loudspeaker proclaiming that this would be the fate of every Indian VC,” as Captain Amarinder also wrote in his book.
Nand Singh’s body was later thrown into a garbage dump, an emotional Captain Amarinder recalled, lamenting that the state government had failed to take care of the statue of this great soldier of the Indian soil, even though it was located on the Badals’ own turf.
“Unfortunately, the Badal government has never shown much respect for our army or its personnel,” he pointed out, referring to the prolonged stir of the war widows in Punjab. The war widows have been trying unsuccessfully to draw the government’s attention to their plight, said Captain Amarinder Singh, while reiterating his party’s and his personal commitment to addressing the concerns of the widows and families of the martyred soldiers.
On Tuesday, a day after Surinder Kaur, a war widow, returned her husband’s gallantry medal, more war widows came out to protest against the Badal government’s apathy to their woes.
War widows in Punjab have been fighting a tough and long battle for their rights, with a large number of them sitting on indefinite dharna outside the chief minister’s residence in Chandigarh for the past three weeks. Captain Amarinder has assured the war widows that once in power, he would take their issues on priority basis to resolve them at the earliest.