War veterans urge Prez to extend them medical facilities

Hyderabad: A group of veterans of the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars urged President Ram Nath Kovind to extend them medical facilities and applicable pension as per their rank and years of service.

The seven war veterans, who assembled here under the aegis of ‘Voice of War Veterans’, told reporters that they have been urging successive governments at the Centre and also the Defence Ministry to extend medical facilities to non-pensioner war veterans of the 1965 and 1971 wars.

They said they feel “let down” by the Army and also the union government over non fulfilment of their long pending demands.

“The Army informed us that our case is pending with the Ministry of Defenceand it has been dragging its feet,” they alleged. L Pandu Ranga Reddy, (75), representing ‘Voice of War Veterans’, said around 12,000 youth joined the army as Emergency Commissioned Officers in 1962, following an appeal by the Indian Government to the youth to join the force.

Of them, only 610 were still surviving across the country, he said. “We fought both the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars and were later released (retired as captains) from the army without any pension and medical benefits. We have been urging the army for the past 30 years to extend medical benefits. Most war veterans are septuagenarians and are suffering from old-age ailments,” Reddy said.

He said they had made several representations to former DefenceMinister Manohar Parikkar to extend medical facilities.

Another war veteran, 81-year-old N S Narayana, said the Adjutant General’s Branch had sanctioned their request for medical benefits, but it was rejected by the Medical Services Branch on the plea that non-pensioners are not eligible for medical treatment.

The veterans alleged that the government utilised their services while they were young and had now “left them in the lurch”. They urged the government to extend medical facilities to non-pensioners and also to grant pension applicable as per their rank and depending upon the number of years of service rendered, “at least at the last stage of our lives”.

Asked about their next course of action, the veterans said “We can only pray to the government. We are not going for any agitation as of now”.

The war veterans pointed out that Members of Parliament get pension, family pension, railway passes and medical benefits.