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|September 9, 1999
India Speaks/Shankar Dagdu Nikam
'They talk about the supreme sacrifice the village is making for the country. Nobody inquires about how we survive'
The very fact that so many of us have to serve in the army proves that there is very little for us in this village to do. Take for example my family. We own only four acres of un-irrigated land. We have to depend on seasonal rains for our crops. Naturally, everybody needs alternate means of income. We do not join the army by choice, it's a compulsion.
People from television channels and news magazines come and interview us. They talk about the supreme sacrifice the village is making for the country. Nobody inquires about how we survive. Is there enough to eat? Are there schools where our children can study?
Politicians are no good either. The Shiv Sena government has done nothing for us. The promises they had made five years ago when they came to power have not been kept. Unemployment is high and we still depend on rains to irrigate our land.
We do not want money from the government. If they have any respect for the sainiks who fight for the country they should allot us land - a couple of acres to each ex-serviceman. If they can't do this then they should honour the hutatmas.
Shankar Dagdu Nikam, 60 plus, of Apshinge village in Satara district of Maharashtra, is a retired army jawan. He spoke to Pankaj Upadhyaya.
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