War widows pay homage to war veterans, highlight their problems

December 17th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by ANI  

By Shubra Saini
New Delhi, Dec.17 (ANI): Thousands of war widows from across the country paid homage to the war heroes during a ceremony held here on Wednesday to commemorate their supreme sacrifice at the national war memorial ””Amar Jawan Jyoti”” at India Gate.
The ceremony held under the aegis of War Widows Association was organized in relation to ””Vijay Divas””, the annual victory day marked on Dec.16 every year to celebrate Indias victory over Pakistan in 1971 war.
But today, the war widows drew authorities attention towards a host of problems affecting them in daily life.
Though armed forces have provided various measures for proper rehabilitation of the war widows, many widows still find it difficult to access these measures.
The War Widows Association, set up by Dr. V. Mohini Giri, provides education and job training for the socially shunned widows of India and also accords emotional support and guidance to rehabilitate war widows in society.
War Widows Association said that they wanted a permanent rehabilitation policy for the war widows at the national-level.
“We want a national policy for these war widows, because we don””t want these women to live constantly at the mercy of Government. We don””t want these widows to run after every changing government. A layout should be made of the basic facility that should be provided to these women. We should see that children of these war widows should have a proper life, otherwise no one will join Defence forces,” said Mohini Giri, the founder of War Widows Association.
The desperate situation of such women is rooted in the old Indian family system and beliefs whereby the family is dependent on the male member. Once the male is gone, the women have no place in society and, consequently, no means to survive.
“No one listens to us, when we go to one place the officials tell us that war widows should go to some other place to get justice. 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.
At the end of the India-Pakistan War of 1971, thousands of widowed women were left to fend for themselves.
Mohini Giri described them as those in “living death.” Each lost soldier left behind women (wife, daughters) without a means of livelihood, often with other dependents to care for.
Setting up the War Widows Association in 1971 and the Guild of Service a year later, Giri dedicated herself to the care of the unfortunate women that a tradition-bound Indian society had determined to ignore.
December 16 is celebrated as ””Vijay Divas”” (Victory Day) as on this day in 1971 Indian armed forces defeated Pakistan that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh.
The 13-day war ended on December 16 when General A.A.K. Niazi of Pakistan signed the instrument of surrender before India”’’s Lt. Gen. Jasjit Singh Aurora at Dhaka, now the capital of Bangladesh.
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.
An estimated three million Bangladeshis were killed during the war. (ANI)

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