All states must give gallantry awards: army chief


New Delhi : Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor wants all state governments to give out gallantry awards to soldiers who die or are wounded in action.

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“All the states need to give gallantry awards. We have been writing officially to all the state governments to give the awards,” Gen Kapoor said at a defence investiture ceremony here late Tuesday.

“We are also taking all steps to ensure that their next of kin live respectfully,” Kapoor added.

Notwithstanding the lack of gallantry awards from some state governments, families of soldiers killed in action do not want to stop break their links with the army.

Suman Lata, the widow of a soldier killed by terrorists in the Kashmir Valley, is keen that her two-and-a-half-year-old son joins the army. The boy is not aware that he has lost his father.

On Aug 30, 2006, Suman’s husband, Sorwar Sultan Singh of 24 Rashtriya Rifles, killed two terrorists in Srinagar before succumbing to multiple gun shots. He was posthumously awarded the Shaurya Chakra for bravery.

“I will make sure my son gets good education and joins the army,” Suman, who hails from a small town in Haryana, told IANS.

Sorwar’s elder brother Balkar Singh is already in the army and is in the same unit. Their younger brother, an engineering student, also desires to join the defence forces.

Another young widow is 19-year-old Geeta, mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old child whose husband, Lance Naik Bhawan Singh, was killed while trying to rescue his injured commander from a terrorist ambush in Jammu and Kashmir. He is to be awarded the Sena Medal.

While the hearts of the dead soldiers’ families still beat for the army, the poor monetary benefits that follow is not enough to sustain them in the long run.

On top of this, many states do not offer any gallantry award or monetary help, in contrast to some states which do. The army chief wants state governments to act uniformally.

The army will train Suman Lata, who has only done her school education, in nursing. She has also been given the option of graduating and then becoming a teacher.

However, things will be difficult for Geeta since she has not studied beyond Class 8.

A total of 49 soldiers will be presented gallantry awards this month.