Chandigarh: Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday offered to foot the Bill for the educational expenses of children of martyrs and those disabled in action, while promising that the Congress would do everything in its power for the defence veterans if it came to power at the Centre.
If he was in a position to do so, he would definitely reverse the current trend, whereby veterans felt the government was not doing enough for them, said the Chief Minister, pointing out that what they were asking for was a small price to pay for their sacrifice.
Amarinder, who had earlier this month written to Defence Minister Nirmala Nirmala Sitharaman seeking reversal of the ministry’s decision to cap the educational expenses of such kids, flayed the stepmotherly treatment being meted out to war veterans and defence personnel. Perturbed by the decision, which would reportedly impact around 32000 students in various institutions while saving the central government a mere Rs 3 crore odd per annum, he had called for an immediate review and revocation of the decision, which he said was "immoral” and "unprincipled”.
It was the government’s responsibility to ensure the welfare of the soldiers and veterans, as well as their families, he said during a panel discussion at the Military Literature Festival here on Saturday. A man dies for his country in peace knowing his children would be taken care of, but that is not happening today, lamented Captain Amarinder.
If the Centre can’t pay such a meagre amount for the education of the soldiers’ and martyrs’ children, the Punjab government was ready to do it, he said, adding that he had conveyed as much to the defence minister but she had not so far responded to the offer. The fee being paid to the children of martyrs and disabled soldiers was a small price in exchange for what they had given, and continued to give, to the nation, said the CM.
Pointing out that war veterans had been sitting on dharna for years now in New Delhi for `one rank one pension’, Amarinder said it was a small demand, which the nation was obliged to fulfill. It was important to look after the interests of the defence personnel and their families in order to keep their morale high, he added. These little things may not matter to the government but they mean a lot to the soldiers, said Captain.
Quite apart from the humanitarian aspect involved, it was also in national interest to ensure that the defence personnel and their families are provided with all the necessary facilities and support to enable them to discharge their duty without any anxiety or stress, he added.