Jammu, Nov 29
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]t’s nearly three years since Chamel Singh, a suspected Indian spy, was brutally killed in the Kot Lokpal prison in Pakistan, A humble farmer, Chamel went missing in 2008 from his native village in Pargwal area of Akhnoor in Jammu province, In 2012, his wife Kamlesh Devi, , mother of four children, got a pleasant surprise when she received a letter from Chamel that he would return home next year after spending a five-year sentence.. Alas, the reunion never took place. On January 15, 2013, the Pak prison authorities tortured him to death.
The entire political class of Jammu and Kashmir as well Prime Minister Narnedra Modi promised justice and help to Chamel’s wife. But no one kept his words. Today, Chamel’s hapless family, which is putting up in Bhalwal Molu village of Pargwal, is still struggling to make both ends meet.
“I sit for hours in front of my husband’s picture. His image reminds of the long struggle he made in his life to build his house. And when it was time for him to relax at home and enjoy the fruit of his labour, he was tortured to death in enemy country.” Says Kamlesh, adding, “I will continue to fight for justice and martyr status for my husband till my last breath.”
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]C[/dropcap]hamel’s elder son Dara Singh who earns his livelihood as a daily wager in his village said: “In Jammu & Kashmir, a surrendered militant can avail of compensation under the ‘healing touch’ policy, a stone pelter is covered under the amnesty scheme, victims of cross-border firing too get compensation but there exists no provision for compensation/relief to the family of victims brutally murdered inside Pakistani jails.”
Quoting the State Government’s response,, Dara said that during the recent Budget Session when BJP MLA Sat Sharma raised the issue of compensation for the kin of Chamel, Minister-in-Charge, Home Department, said that no compensation/relief has been provided to the family as there is no provision of compensation in such cases.
Referring to unfulfilled political promises Chamel’s younger son Deepak said: “The Central Government, headed by Manmohan Singh and Akali Dal-led alliance Government in Punjab, compensated Sarabjeet’s family, provided a Government job to his daughter and also bestowed the title of ‘martyr’ on him. Incidentally, Sarabjeet Singh, an India spy suspect, was killed in Pakistan jail.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n contrast, more than 34 months have passed and we are still awaiting justice from the State and Central Governments.” He said, “It is very unfortunate that the State Government maintains that there is no provision to compensate families of victims in such cases. We are not begging. Our father sacrificed his life inside a Pakistani jail and no one in the Government is willing to help us,” he added.
Talking about the issue, Sat Pal Sharma said that “ I had handed over a request letter to the Principal Secretary seeking an audience with the Chief Minister along with Chamel’s family. Till date, I have not received any formal response from the CM’s office.”
talked of how since December 22, 2008 when Chamel went missing, the family has been suffering in isolation. “We could not complete our studies due to poverty. My elder brother and I had to step out to earn our livelihood. Even after the death of our father, no one has come forward to help us,” he said.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]D[/dropcap]ara Singh earns Rs 250 a day as daily wage. The paltry sum is insufficient to support his large family. “My younger brother is also working with a local contractor and sometimes goes out of the State to support the family,” said Dara who has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver justice to his family.
While in Opposition, the BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP and State Prabhari Avinash Rai Khanna had demanded compensation to the tune of Rs. 1.35 crore for Chamel’s family in May 2013.
“Compensation of Rs 1 crore should be given by the Jammu & Kashmir Government while Rs 25 lakh should be given by the Centre,” Khanna had said while handing over a cheque of Rs 3 lakh to Kamlesh in Chandigarh.
Now, after coming to power, both at the Centre and in the State, the same leaders have been silent on the issue. During the Assembly polls, when Khanna was repeatedly asked about the relief package to Chamel’s family, he maintained that the BJP was committed to compensate his family but could not do so due to the model code of conduct.
“How many times do we need to highlight the plight of our family. We are growing tired of repeating appeals in front of the political leadership of the State and the country,” Deepak said.
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]n the absence of any uniform policy, citizens returning from Pakistan after completing their jail term continue to suffer due to the whims and fancies of politicians and bureaucrats. The comparison between the cases of Sarabjeet Singh and Chamel Singh bring out this stark reality and also exposes the loopholes in our governance system.
When Chamel succumbed to his injuries in the Pakistani jail, no effort was made by the Indian Government to bring back his body. It is only after a hue and cry was raised and pressure mounted by civil society that the Government, through its High Commissioner in Pakistan, started negotiating the release of Chamel’s body after necessary investigations.
It took more than 57 days for Pakistani authorities to hand over the body to their Indian counterparts. Another controversy surfaced when Chamel’s family claimed that his body organs had been tampered with during post mortem investigations and accused the Pakistani authorities of even torturing even the dead body.
Chamel’s body came via the Wagah Border in an ambulance and handed over to the State authorities for transportation to Jammu. In contrast, when Sarabjeet’s body was airlifted to India in a special flight and he was cremated with full State honours by the Punjab Government. His family was awarded Rs 1 crore compensation and, in addition, the Centre gave an ex-gratia of Rs25 lakh from the PM’s relief fund. His two daughters were given Government job offers.
On the other hand, Chamel was cremated in his native village by his family and no one from the Government attended the funeral. Till date not a single penny has been awarded to his kin nor any job offered to his sons. There has been no response whatsoever from the PM’s office to the letters written by Kamlesh. There has been no response either to the memorandum submitted to the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, nor to letters written to the President of India and the Chief Minister.
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