New Delhi: A day after Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was hanged, social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday highlighted the plight of National Security Guard (NSG) commandos, who fought with the terrorists during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Addressing a press conference here, Kejriwal sought to highlight the pitiable condition in which NSG commandos were living, who according to him have even been denied basic rights by the government.
In an attempt to add authenticity to his claims, Kejriwal presented a former NSG commando Surendra Singh, who fought with the terrorists during the 26/11 attacks and got injured, following which he was declared medically unfit to continue his job.
Sitting besides Kejriwal, Surendra narrated his story saying that the government did not fulfill its duties towards the injured soldiers and left them helpless.
Narrating his story, Singh said, “After getting injured during the 26/11 attacks, I was declared medically unfit and sent back home. However, I don’t have any grudge on this, but the problem is that I was deprived of my pension money and also government didn’t bear my medical expenses.”
“After failing to get my dues, I tried to get information through Right to Information Act (RTI). But I was told that NSG will not reply to RTI query as it doesn’t come under the purview of the Act. I wanted to know about foreign donations that were sent to help us but my request was rejected," the ex-NSG commando said.
Singh claimed that NSG commandos, who were injured in the 26/11 operation, received a "number of gifts in the form of cheques" but the force had not dispersed them to the people concerned.
"I saw a file in which the photocopy of a cheque of Rs 2 lakh each from Rohan Motors Pvt Ltd and another firm were received in my name. I never got the money. Not just me but none of my colleagues got the money which came in their name. I want to know who en-cashed them and where are they now?" he asked.
When I asked officials what happened to the money, they said the Home Ministry decided that no gifts or donations will be received by the NSG. But they did not show me the records to prove that those money have been returned," Singh said.
He also demanded that an enquiry be launched into the matter and the government clarify what it did with the money gifted by several firms and individuals.
He also distributed copies of an RTI reply which said he received around Rs 2.5 lakh as financial benefits from the Government of India.
Presenting an order from the Government which said Singh was not eligible to get pension as he has put in only 14 years and three months of service as against the mandatory 15 years, Kejriwal claimed there are several clauses in the law under which a commando can be given concessions so that he gets his pension.
"Is this the way to treat our commandos who sacrifice their lives for the nation? Does he deserve just Rs 4 lakh? The government should say what happened to the cheques that were gifted to the NSG?" he asked.
The Government was swift in rejecting the allegations when it took to twitter and said: "The government has given Nk (Naik) Surender Singh all his dues."
Press Information Bureau`s twitter handle said: "(The government has) informed Singh on November 16 through telephone that war injury pension has been sanctioned and bankers were also informed."
"Surender Singh is getting war injury pension of Rs 25,254 per month. Rs 31 lakh retirement emoluments is paid to Surender Singh," it said.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said the commandos were drawn from different forces. "I will inquire into it," he told reporters when asked about the allegations.
Tewari said he has been paid Rs 31 lakh and that he also received Rs 25,000 which is not in the form of a war injury pension.
"....If at all anything which needs to be done in order to preserve and protect the honour of those people who on daily basis risk their lives for the unity, integrity and sovereignty of the country, this government will never be found wanting," Tewari said.
However, Singh rejected the claims and said he has not received any money from the government.
"You can check my bank account. I have not got any money. The government is lying," he said.
Singh said he received roughly around Rs 4 lakh as rewards from various sources, including Rs 1 lakh each from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. "In that money, I spent over Rs 1 lakh on medical expenses. I have a family to run," he said.
Later, Kejriwal tweeted: "Govt shamelessly misleading the nation. 31 lakhs given to 11 injured, not to Surinder Singh. Out of 31 lakhs, Surinder got jst 2.5 lakh."
"Can govt prove that surinder getting Rs 25 thousand per month? If it is not proved, who would resign in govt for misleading nation?" he asked.
"Govt says that Surinder informed of pension on "phone" on 16 Nov. Interesting. Pensions informed on phone? Since when? No papers needed?" he asked.
“Ajmal Kasab hanged yesterday. But what about those NSG commandos who fought that night and saved India? They are leading a pitiable life,” Kejriwal added.
With PTI inputs