[stextbox id=”info”]Four allegations and counter-allegations are doing the rounds[/stextbox]
New Delhi: Television news channels last night and newspapers this morning have covered the death of Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal extensively while the allegations of foul play and a scandal, which emerged in social media, went unreported.
While the newspapers have also reported Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal’s visits to the family, their detention and statements, these reports were pre-empted by the television debates last night where the Congress vice-president was questioned for grinning ear-to-ear on a sombre occasion.
Meanwhile, Twitter users released images of the AAP convener cum Delhi Chief Minister who seemed to be having a nice time at a venue where he is supposed to be mourning.
Was it OROP?
The family of the deceased veteran alleged that Grewal had committed suicide as a mark of protest against the non-implementation of the One-Rank-One-Pension promise made by the Narendra Modi government. Kulwant Grewal, the eldest son, said to journalists, “I last had a conversation with him late on Tuesday afternoon. I had never heard him so distressed and disappointed. He told me that he believed nothing more could be done about OROP and so he wished to end his life.“A panicked family immediately called up Grewal’s fellow protestors, who assured them he was fine. However, a little later, Grewal collapsed at the protest site. When the cops were informed, they rushed him to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in a critical state. By this time, three other sons, Jaswant, Pradeep and Balwinder, had left for the capital. On the way , they received a call informing them about their father’s death.
As reported by newspapers, the family panicked on hearing this, but other veterans who were protesting along with the late subedar assured them that he was safe. However, the retired soldier collapsed after a while at the site of protests. He was rushed to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital even as Jaswant, Pradeep and Balwinder, the three other sons of Ram Kishan Grewal, left for the capital from their respective locations. They were informed while they were still on their way that their father had died.
This account has been challenged by some social media users on two counts: one, they don’t think the soldier ended his life protesting a half-baked OROP; two, they find reasons of foul play in the audio file released by the grieving family. But before their allegation is reported, let’s read the government reaction.
Bank to blame?
An official of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told a newspaper, “Grewal should have been getting around Rs 2,000-3,000 more in his monthly pension. This is being looked into. For pensioners, the disbursal agency is the bank in which they have an account. When pensions are re-fixed, the tables are given to the banks to calculate and disburse individual pensions. Most of the pension-related complaints are connected to problems with the calculation by banks.“
This is purportedly the response of the ministry to the letter the late Grewal had addressed to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 31 October where the retired jawan had claimed that he had not got the pension hike under the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC), OROP and the Seventh CPC although he had served in uniform for 30 years and 9 months, which made him eligible for the increased pension. But the source in the MoD says, “Grewal did not seek an appointment with Parrikar, nor has the minister’s office got his letter of 31 October till now.“
According to the MoD, “the government is committed to ex-servicemen welfare“. Parrikar has said that, so far, Rs 5,507.47 crore has been disbursed under the OROP scheme out of which Rs 3,867 crore has been paid to 19,12,520 former soldiers and family pensioners under the first instalment and Rs 1,641 crore more has been given to 11,33,100 veterans under as the second instalment.
The dead soldier a social worker?
In the meantime, the current sarpanch (head of the local village body) of Grewal’s village said that, as his predecessor, the retired subedar had rendered exemplary service to the area with his cleanliness drive. The then UPA government was so impressed with his work that they awarded him with a Nirmal Bharat Puraskar in 2008.
We quote The Times of India:
The current sarpanch, Tasveer Singh, told TOI that during Grewal’s tenure, the village had become the cleanest in the district, the school was upgraded to senior secondary , every household got drinking water supply and `Rajwahas’ were constructed to ensure proper irrigation of farmland.
“He was a docile and honest person who worked like a devoted soldier even as a sarpanch,“ Tasveer said. Grewal’s widow, Kitab Kaur, said, “He was very active for the rights of military veterans and remained out for several days.“
Suicide due to embarrassment?
While soldiers are loved and respected so much in this country because of their sacrifice for the nation, some supporters of the government dared to challenge the holy cow by alleging, after reports of the suicide surfaced, that, first, Subedar Grewal’s account of his work in the village, which he had submitted to the government, was a gross exaggeration. Second, an alleged review of Nirmal Bharat by the NDA government that has changed the programme’s name to Swachh Bharat found that Grewal had met a mere 15% of the target set by the Nirmal Bharat project of the then government.
Some Facebook users, with the luxury of being able to elaborate on their point unlike Twitter users restricted by 140 characters per tweet, have questioned the content of the audio file and also the Nirmal Bharat award. सिर्फ़ News reproduces what Lokesh Saxena wrote unedited:
There are some very interesting points to be noted in the audio.
1. He says that he got Rs 5200 less money…Will anyone commit suicide for that?
2. Hear …someone is INSTRUCTING HIM TO SPEAK SOMETHING
3. Who recorded the audio??
4. In the audio he sounds very drunk
5. Was he drugged by someone?
6. Did someone make him speak all this? He sounds like someone who has been asked to take poison on an assurance that he will be saved.
7. Notice the son coolly asks what tablet did you take and how many you took, there is no anxiety or pain in his voice!
8. Why did he not inform the ambulance or police when he came to know his father took poison??
9. If it was just the tablet, then it would not have killed him immediatley, the person could have been admitted to hospital and a stomach wash could have saved him.
10.The most interesting development is he wrote a letter to Manohar Parrikar inquiring few points on 31-10-2016 but he commits suicide just a day after that. But the letter has never reached Defense Ministry but has reached Social media, was this a pre-planned gimmick??
11. The letter posted here is the basic letter of OROP with multiple signatures. Only suicide as a foot note not even signed by him ,how did this become a suicide note?
12. Pay attention to the last paragraph of the said letter ” (in comment) where Ram Kishan writes “मै आपसे निवेदन करता हू” this is the tone of the entire letter. A request to the govt and not a demand.
13.The suicide note is scribbled by someone else at the end of the letter and is not even signed by Sri RamKishan
14. Ram kishan had informed his family that he will come back on 1st November, but he doesn’t, someone has definitely played the role here.
Certain crucial facts which have cleverly been hidden by mainstream media are as below
1 . As we all by now know that ex-service man Subedar(Retd) Ram Kishan Grewal has committed suicide and without any suicide note media n political parties mainly #Congress And #AAP are saying that he committed suicide due to #NarendraModi govt not fulfilling #OROP promise.
2. But what none of the media or politicians frm #Congress #AAP are saying is that the deceased ex serviceman has been sarpanch of village Bamla in Bhiwani district of Haryana .
3. He was awarded by Congress govt in 2005 & 2008 for his efforts in making his village open defection free by building toilets under Nirmal Bharat programme ( scheme now called Swacch Bharat Abhiyan), during investigations in 2015 it was found that the village declared Open defection free in 2008 by Haryana Congress govt, only 15% households actually had built toilets under govt scheme and rest were only on papers.
4. As per the then policy payment for all 1882 households were made to village committee headed by Ram Kishan Grewal as sarpanch of village .
5. In June 2016 Ram Kishan Grewal was charged for causing loss to exchequer by raising fraudulent bills in name of building toilets in his village and investigations were going in against him.
The audio file Saxena talks about is a report by India TV.
Some time after the Facebook update above, another Facebook user Anil Mattoo said more or less the same thing. However, more than the question as to why someone would commit suicide for getting Rs 5,200 less in his pension account, what will perhaps be taken more seriously at this juncture is the voice of a fellow soldier.
99% of OROP stands implemented/resolved. Why would a veteran Kill himself 4 OROP-Clearly dirty trick dept of Cong & AAP is at play.
— Col Ajit Bhinder (@ajitbhinder) November 2, 2016
So, did Subedar (Retired) Grewal commit suicide, embarrassed by the government finding that he had been unduly felicitated by the previous regime? If the protesters who were around him at the time when he consumed poison did not try to stop him, did they incite him to end his life? Isn’t it then a case of abetment of suicide? We are yet to hear the last word on this incident.