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Ex-army jawan forced to work as farm labourer

Monday, February 12, 2018
By Raju Vernekar

An ex-army jawan, who had handled many tough assignments, including a posting on the Indo-China border and with IPKF in Sri Lanka, has been deprived of pension for the last several years eventually being forced to work as a farm labourer in Palghar.

An adivasi, Datta Soma Thapad joined the Indian Army on November 21, 1985 and was posted in Secunderabad with the 8-Mahar Regiment. In 1987-1989 he was sent to Sri Lanka as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to take on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a Tamil militant organisation, based in North-Eastern Sri Lanka. After gallant work in Sri Lanka, he returned to India and was posted in Meerut cantonment.

Subsequently he was posted in Ferozepur (Punjab) and then was given the arduous task of manning the Kms 6 Point (Arunachal Pradesh). The army is required to walk for nearly two days to reach this post in absence of any means of communication. Following this, he also served in the army regiment in Jaipur (Rajasthan).

In between, his house in Palghar was set on fire by some miscreants. Worried about his family he returned to Palghar with permission from his superiors. He eventually retired in 2000. But according to Thapad, his  service documents were  never sent by his  office to the Principal Controller of Defense Accounts, Allahabad, due to which he was deprived of pension.

As such, he moved the Bombay High Court, which on March 19, 2003 directed defense authorities to process his papers and pay him pension immediately; but to no avail. Later, he approached the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) which also directed the defense authorities to take immediate action in the matter. But once again the matter remained as it was.

Even until today, Thapad has not received a single penny by way of pension, eventually being forced into doing menial work to eke out living.

Meanwhile, the Shramajivi Sanghatana (SS) has decided to take up the matter with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis so that the brave soldier who has served at the country’s frontiers is given justice. SS president and former MLA Vivek Pandit told The Afternoon D & C that the matter will be referred to the CM and that the SS will
make sure Thapad gets his legitimate dues, if not honour.

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