Friday, October 9, 2009

Disabled soldiers get scooters, cash

Pune During the Indo-Pak War in December 1971, Naik Ram Dass of Mahar regiment was caught in a mine blast that killed 14 soldiers of his regiment. Dass damaged his left leg that night and has been on crutches since then. On Thursday, 45 disabled soldiers like Dass were given a modified scooter each at the Bombay Engineering Group by head of Southern Command, the General Officer Commanding in Chief, Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna. “Around 10 pm, the mine blew up and killed and injured many soldiers. It happened on December 11, nine days after the war broke out,” he said. In 1985, Dass retired from the Army.
Now 58, he lives in Buldana with his three children. “I do not know yet how to ride a scooter, but I can learn. My children will teach me,” said Dass. “It will be quite useful when I visit nearby places, like the market or the canteen. Till now, I have been travelling by autorickshaw,” he said.
The 12 soldiers injured in battle include those who had participated in Operation Vijay in Kargil , Operation Parakram, operations in the Uri sector and while disposing off with ammunition in Akhnoor.
Recent cases are of Sepoy Mangal Singh of the 6 Rashtriya Rifles battalion who was injured in Kupwara in March 2009; his right leg was amputated below his knee. In January 2009, Naik Thombre Sanjay Dattaray was injured in a mine blast at Nowshera.. The rest of the soldiers presented with scooters were injured in non-battle situations.
“These vehicles have been specifically modified to suit their purposes and this will improve their mobility tremendously,” said Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna, GOC-in C, Southern Command. Each scooter is worth Rs 53,000.
“We have fought four wars, besides operations in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East. It is the mission of the Army to instill confidence amongst our disabled soldiers so that they continue to be responsible citizens who inspire the rest and do not remain a subject of sympathy,” Khanna said. Khanna also gave away cash assistance to the tune of Rs 20,000 each to eight war widows.

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