Krishnagar (WB): He had saved 88 soldiers
from drowning shortly after the 1965 war with Pakistan and was
later given a gallantry medal and stipend by the government.
But on the eve of another Independence day, 75-year old
Atul Halder faces starvation at his Naghata home under
Krishnagunj block in Nadia district, deprived of the Rs 1,500
monthly stipend by the Union Home Ministry.
Halder had tied a rope with a tree to rescue 88 soldiers
as two army ships, collided on September 18, 1965, on river
Ichhamati near Naghata in Krishnagunj and played a leading
role in rescuing 20 soldiers from water and 68 from the
He had also fished out some arms and handed over to
the army authorities.
After his bravery was made public, Halder had been
awarded with the Ashok Chakra (III), a certificate and Rs 100
as monthly stipend.
Though his stipend amount was raised to Rs 1500
subsequently, it was stopped for unspecified reasons about
four months back.
"I am too poor and aged. I am not getting stipend for the
past four months, which has virtually pushed me and wife Ganga
to the verge of starvation. Can`t the government do anything
to save our lives?" the frail looking man told PTI.
Ganga said "I sometime make bidis and work as a maid at
the age of 55. We cannot arrange two square meals a day."
The couple has four adult sons who work as daily
District authorities said they would take up the matter
with the Centre and officials would visit Halder`s residence