Antony says Government to continue efforts to trace PoWs

December 17th, 2008 - 5:57 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Dec 17 (ANI): Defence Minister A K Antony today said the government will continue efforts to pursue tracing the 54 missing Prisoners of Wars (PoWs).
Addressing a meeting of the war widows here, Antony said, “The fate of the PoWs and their families continues to haunt him. We tried our best but still we are not able to find the truth. The family members of the PoWs went to Pakistan, but they were not allowed to see all the places. We have not abandoned our efforts and will continue whatever humanly is possible in this regard to locate these people.”
He assured that funds shortage would not come in the way of formulating welfare schemes for about 30 lakh ex-servicemen and war widows.
“The Government is evaluating modern techniques to generate additional funds. A proposal to increase the number of scholarships to the wards of ex-servicemen and war widows for higher technical education is under the active consideration of the Government,” the Minister added.
He said that a large number of schemes such as reservation in medical and dental colleges, provision of war memorial hostel at district level and railway travel concessions already exist for the welfare of widows.
The scope of Raksha Mantri Discretionary Fund has been enhanced. The benefits earlier restricted to smaller section of beneficiaries have now been extended to widows of all ranks up to Havildar,” he added.
Later, he said that the Government has taken several other welfare initiatives to care for the families of the deceased soldiers.
“A provision to the tune of Rs. two lakh as parent assistance, in cases where parents are not the next of kin has been made. A sum of Rs. one lakh per child, for two children, as education assistance is also given. The tuition fees for the wards of Armed Forces personnel killed in war-like situation has been completely exempted,” he added.
Although government have provided various measures to rehabilitate the war widows, still many widows find it difficult to access these measures.
“We are completely clueless about what to do and what not to do. Everyone tries to subjugate us be it society or our own family members. We have sacrificed so much for our country and at least we should get something in return,” said Rajbala, a war widow.
The War Widows Association, set up by Dr. V. Mohini Giri has been demanding a permanent rehabilitation policy for the war widows at the national level.
“We want to demand for a national policy for these war widows, because we don”t want these women to live constantly at the mercy of Government. A layout should be made of the basic facility that should be provided to these women. We should see that children of these widows have a proper life, otherwise no one will join defence forces,” said Giri.
December 16 is celebrated as ”Vijay Divas” as on this day in 1971 Indian armed forces defeated Pakistan that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
The 13-day war ended when General A.A.K. Niazi of Pakistan signed the instrument of surrender before Lt. Geneneral Jasjit Singh Aurora at Dhaka.
Over 93,000 Pakistani armed forces personnel were taken as prisoners of war. It was the biggest surrender of armed forces by any country in modern times. (ANI)

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