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This is no way to treat a martyred soldier's widow

May 30, 2014 11:34 IST

This is no way to treat a martyred soldier's widow

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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

‘It is not just me but the family of every soldier feels there is no gratitude. I hope things change for the better… respect ought to be given to our soldiers who sacrifice everything for the country’

After battling government apathy for seven years, Subhashini Vasanth, the widow of Colonel Vasanth Venugopal in 2007, seems close to getting justice. Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com reports  

It is unfortunate to see the wife of a decorated officer, killed in the line of duty, running from pillar to post to claim her right.

Subhashini Vasanth not only had to deal with the sudden loss of her husband, Colonel Vasanth, who died fighting militants in Kashmir, but has also been made to run around government offices for a piece of land that was promised to her as part of the compensation.

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Very often governments are quick to make announcements, but when it comes to actually handing over the compensation, the beneficiaries are given a tough time.

Subhashini, as per the rule book, is entitled to either 2 acres of wet land, 4 acres of rain side land or 8 acres of dry land. She identified a piece of land at Devanahalli in Bangalore Rural district as per the assurance given to her by the government but is yet to receive possession.

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Image: Colonel Vasanth with former defence minister A K Antony


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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

Colonel Vasanth, who was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, died on July 31, 2007, while battling militants in Kashmir. The news of his death was a big jolt to Subhashini but almost anyone who has met Subhashini would agree that she is one of the most dignified persons they have ever met.

Compensation according to the rule book is a state subject and the central government only deals with pension and ex-gratia payments. While Subhashini ought to have been given the land in 2007 itself, political instability in Karnataka during the period made the process difficult.

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Image: Col Vasanth with his wife Subhashini


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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

Even though there was a stable Bharatiya Janata Party government the following year the case dragged on. While the first three years saw no government action on the case, in the past two years Karnataka politics has witnessed an upheaval with the change of three chief ministers in quick succession. But nothing changed for Subhashini.

Subhashini Vasanth has only faced government apathy. She's often asked to return another day when she visits government offices to enquire about progress in the case. Officials point out mistakes in her files, which at times seem deliberate, she says.

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Image: Subhashini Vasanth set up the Vasantharatna Foundation for Art in the memory of her husband, Col Vasanth Venugopal


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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

But there appears to be some hope for Subhashini now. The defence ministry has written to the state government directing them to expedite the process. The issue has also attracted a lot of attention on social media with many demanding justice for her.

The revenue secretary of the state, Srinivas Prasad, has said that Subhashini will get the land that she has identified and the process was being completed. She has also received a call from the chief minister's office stating that the process is nearly done and she would get her right very soon.

But Subhashini says she would not get too excited about it until she has something concrete in hand.

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Image: Col Vasanth Venugopal was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, India's highest gallantry award for exemplary bravery


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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

“I am happy to know that there is something happening on the issue. I was quite sure the government would not ignore it. I have not gone around asking for something that is not mine. I only hope that I will get my due from the state government. It is hardly even fair that I had to run around for something that was legitimately mine. I cannot explain to you the kind of humiliation and embarrassment I had to go through while asking for something that was mine and was assured to me,” Subhashini said.  

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Image: Col Vasanth was the Commanding Officer of 9 Maratha Light Infantry, a unit of the Indian Army


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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

“Why does this happen? It is not just me but the family of every soldier feels there is no gratitude. I hope things change for the better and such occurrences should be stopped and respect ought to be given to our soldiers who sacrifice everything for the country,” she added.


Image: Col Vasanth with his wife Subhashini

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