Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Don't mistreat our heroes

Francois Gautier brings attention to poor treatment meted to our war heroes. A nation should treat it's heroes better. Here is his article -

Bana Singh : a hero of our times

Bana Singh was born on 6 January 1949 and now lives in R.S.Pura nearJammu. He joined Indian Army's Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) on 6 January 1969. After training at the High Altitude Training School along with his battalion at Gulmarg, he was posted in Siachenin April 1987. Pakistan had already occupied a vantage point called Quaid Post named after Mohammad Ali Jinnah. This is the most important and highest post in the area. From the top of this post theentire Saltoro range is visible, including other posts like the Amarand Sonam which get food and other materials by Indian helicopters. OnApril 18, 1987, the Pakistan army at Quaid post began firing at theIndian troops. A Junior commissioned Officer and five soldiers were killed at Sonam. It became necessary to gain control over the post for the safety of the men and supporting helicopters. It was therefore decided to recapture Quaid Post.

On 26th June 1987, Bana Singh got the green light to lead his platoon up the 90° slope with iced walls, after two previous attempts failed with heavy casualties. This is how he remembers it: "Though it was daytime, because of the heavy snowing we could not say if it was day or night. The Pakistanis must have been knowing that something was going on because our troops were firing at them from the base camp (todivert their attention). When we reached the top, there was a single bunker. We had been trained for such a fight. I threw a grenade inside and closed the door. At the end, a total of six Pakistanis were killed. We brought back their bodies which were later handed over to the Pakistanis authorities during a flag meeting in Kargil. Some must have escaped towards the Pakistani side, perhaps over the cliff. I think that I have bayoneted three or four persons, I don't remembernow."

For this act of valor Bana Singh was awarded Param Vir Chakra. and was presented the Param Vir Chakra on January 26 1988.The Quaid Post was renamed as Bana Post after its liberation by Bana Singh. Today some twenty years after liberating Quiad Post and earning a PVC, Bana Singhis sad man, because of the indifferent attitude of the J&K government who pays him paltry Rs 166 per month whereas neighboring state ofPanjab, HP and Haryana pay much higher amounts to PVC winners. (in Punjab a PVC winner gets Rs 12,500 every month, in Haryana it is Rs 10,400 and in Himachal Pradesh it is Rs 10,000). How can a nation retain its independence if it does not reward its defenders suitably? Does it behove a great country like India to treat one of its greatest present day heroes, one of the three living PVC recipients, so shabbily? This is why we have decided to bestow our first Shivaji-FACT award of Courage to Captain Bana Singh and are trying to raise money to hand him over as well a substantial prize money.

The Shivaji-FACT award of Courage, which will be handed over by H H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on 12th March 2008 in Mumbai on the occasion of theopening of the Shivaji exhibition (see below),

" A Hero for ModernIndia".
Fran├žois Gautier SHIVAJI EXHIBITION
Venue P.L. Deshpande, Maharashtra Kala Academy, Prabhadevi, Mumbai

Date 12th March 2008.

Time: 4.30 pm.

PROGRAM SCHEDULE
4.30 pm - Arrival of Chief Guests His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarand Chief Minister Gujarat Shri Narendra Modiji, Shri UddhavThackerayji, Shri Gopinath Mundeji
4.40pm – His Holiness chants a mantra at the venue
4.45pm – His Holiness and Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, ShriUddhav Thackerayji and Shri Gopinath Mundeji light the lamp in turnsto inaugurate the exhibition
4.45 to 5.00pm - the Chief guests view the exhibition.
5.00pm - Chief guests proceed to auditorium
5.05pm - Vande Mataram
5.10pm – Francois Gautier gives the welcome address
5.15pm- Film 'Heros of Kargil' to be screened
5.20 pm- All the Chief guests are requested to sit on the stage.
5.25pm- Shri Gopinath Munde will address the audience.
5.35pm – Shri Uddhav Thackerayji will address the audience
5.55pm- Hon Chief Minister Gujarat Shri Narendra Modiji will addressthe audience. Topic " Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj- a Hero for ModernIndia"
6.10pm - His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji will address the audienceSession will end with a guided meditation by His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji

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