BHOPAL: Havaldar Shyam Bahadur Singh of the Rajputana Rifles overcame the pain of bullets in his chest tied with a blood soaked towel to destroy an entire bunker of the Pakistani Army on the indomitable heights of the Drass Sector during the 1999 Kargil War. Two decades later, as the country prepares to observe the 20th anniversary of the Kargil Vijay, the 56-year-old war veteran is still fighting a battle, but this time in the courtrooms of Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur to get his dues from the Indian Army and the Central Government.
He was deployed with other colleagues in the 2nd Rajputana Rifles Battalion in the Drass Sector. “I along with a junior jawan Jagram, who hailed from Rajasthan, was manning a post in Drass Sector with the enemy bunker just being around 400 m away,” recounted Singh.
“I spotted that Jagram wasn’t properly positioning and firing from the Medium Machine Gun (MMG) so I went close to help him, but suddenly bullets fired from the Pakistani bunker hit me in the chest inches from the heart, triggering profuse bleeding. I asked Jagram to tie a towel tightly on my chest and continued to fight the enemy with MMG and mortar shells, destroying the entire Pakistani bunker,” recalled the retired jawan.
“I was subsequently airlifted to Army Hospital in Jammu, where my chest was operated by surgeons. But owing to complications, I was referred to the Army Hospital Research and Referral in Delhi. Another surgery was performed at the hospital in Delhi and after recuperating a month and half later, I was retired from the Army on medical grounds as my left hand only worked with partial efficiency,” said Singh, whose family has been given a petrol pump by the government.
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“Owing to prolonged property disputes in native village Semri in Satna district, I had applied for retirement from Army in 1998. After retirement post-Kargil War, I didn’t receive the insurance benefits worth around `20-`25 lakh as my Commanding Officer had submitted that I wasn’t eligible for the insurance benefits as I’d already applied for retirement,” lamented Singh. “I submitted that I fought the war valiantly with my retirement request still pending, so I was not retired during Kargil War and hence couldn’t be denied extraordinary benefits which other war veterans were entitled.”
Unable to get the Battle Casualty/Injury Pension along with normal pension and the benefits under the Army Group Insurance Fund and Army Welfare Casualty Fund, he filed a writ petition before the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur in 2005. While he has succeeded in getting the Casualty Pension, the war veteran is yet to get the insurance benefits even after so many years.