War veterans of the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and 71 unanimously urged Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments to extend them the ex-servicemen pension and the health security scheme.
Urging the state governments to this effect, the founder member of Voice of War Veterans Capt. Lingala Pandu Ranga Reddy alleged that they are being subjected to apathy by the central government which he said turned nelson’s eye towards their plights.
Addressing a media conference held in Press Club Hyderabad today, Capt LP Reddy said they were left in the lurch by the Defence Ministry after their retirement from the services as neither pension nor any health scheme was made available to them. He said they have joined the Indian Army taking a call from the Indian government after the debacle at the hands of China in October 1962 war. “We were granted Emergency Service Commission (ECO). But it is not a Short Service Commission”, he said and added that they had fought 1965 & 1971 Indo-Pak wars. Hence, we are not just ex-servicemen but War veterans, he said.
While joining the citizenry in condoling the Pulwama terror attack in JK wherein 44 jawans were martyred, Capt. LP Reddy said we have been urging the government to grant us pension and health cards so that we can leave this world peacefully as most of the war veterans are above 70 years of age and suffering from various age-related ailments. ‘But unfortunately, the government has left us in the lurch by leaving us to our fate in the absence of any pension nor any health coverage facility”, he said.
To a query, he said that over 610 war veterans are still surviving country-wide as per the RTI reply and government is unable to help this small number. They also appealed to the Media Management to raise funds from the public on behalf of war veterans like in the case of natural calamities and remit the same to the government for providing medical aid to them at the time of need.
He also expressed anguish at the way the union government is helping MPs, MLAs, MLCs and claimed that it had spent over Rs. 63,83,95,195 Crores on the following purposes in the year 2016-17.
The total expenditure the Govt. of India spent on them for the year 2016-17 is as follows (this information was obtained under the RTI Act, 2005).
Capt. LP Reddy further said that the Army headquarters had written a letter to the Ministry of Defence to extend Medical benefits to War veterans of 1962, 1965 and 1971 to which they informed me of the same vide DO letter as mentioned hereunder but to no avail, he said.
However, he pointed out its been 3 years since Army had recommended the pension to war veterans to the Government but nothing moved yet. The Govt. of India paid the Medical bills of Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, Manohar Parikkar, then Defence Minister, now C.M. of Goa, and Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister. “Having not satisfied with the medical treatment in India, they were even sent to the USA for better medical treatment. The Govt. of India without demur paid their Medical bills”, he said.
He questioned as to which article of Indian Constitution allows the Ministers to get medical treatment in foreign countries at the cost of Government and which Article of the Constitution deny the same to the War veterans? Even the High Court and Supreme Court judges get all benefits even though their term of incumbency is less than 20 years. Why is it not for War veterans? he questioned.
“Hence, we appeal to the High Courts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to take up our cause suo-moto. In both, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, there cannot be more than 35 surviving War veterans in these states. We appeal to the Chief Minister Chandrashekar Rao to include medical benefits to War veterans in ensuing state budget”, he concluded.
The others who also spoke include Dr Chiranjeevi Kolluri, K Narasimha Reddy, Narender Reddy etc.