New Delhi: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot Thursday accused the BJP of using the “widows of [Pulwama] martyrs for their narrow political interest”, days after his party colleague and rival Sachin Pilot asked the state government to consider their demands sympathetically.
Forty Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel lost their lives in the Pulwama terrorist attack in February 2019. The families of three personnel from the state — Hemraj Meena, Rohitash Lamba and Jeet Ram Gurjar — have been protesting since 28 February in Jaipur over what they describe as “non-fulfillment of promises” by the state government. BJP MP Kirodi Lal Meena had also joined the protest.
In a statement on Twitter Thursday, Gehlot said that the families of the martyrs have been compensated in line with state norms, and sought to explain why some demands are not being fulfilled.
“The wife of martyr Sh. Hemraj Meena wants his third statue installed at a circle (chauraha) whereas two of his statues have already been installed,” wrote Gehlot, adding that such a demand “is not appropriate in view of the families of other martyrs”.
“Wife of martyr Sh. Rohitash Lamba is demanding [a] compassionate appointment of her husband’s brother. If [a] job is given to brother of martyr Sh. Lamba, then in future the family members of all the widows may exact inappropriate social and family pressure to give job to other relatives while depriving the children of the martyr of the right to a job… How can we justify giving [a] job to any other relative by trampling upon the rights of the children of the martyr?” said Gehlot.
How can we justify giving job to any other relative by trampling upon the rights of the children of the martyr?
What will happen to the children of the martyr when they grow up?
Is it appropriate to trample upon their rights? pic.twitter.com/49Kio82KlX
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) March 9, 2023
Citing the Kargil package that the state government had introduced for the dependents of soldiers killed in 1999, Gehlot said, “There is perhaps no such package for martyr families in any other state for the families of the martyrs.”
He said that he has apprised Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge of his arguments.
Meanwhile, BJP MP Meena told ThePrint Thursday that Pilot as well as two state ministers met the families earlier this week and assured justice, “but now the CM has made a U-turn.”
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Pilot seeks ‘sympathetic’ handling of demands
On 4 March, the families of the personnel and Meena had met Governor Kalraj Mishra.
Meena told ThePrint that the visit to the governor was prompted by the CM’s refusal to meet the families. “The families told the governor that they are willing to die. Then the governor asked them to meet the CM. On the march to the CM’s house, they were brutally beaten up and manhandled by the state police.”
He said the aggrieved families wanted jobs for relatives because their children were too young. “One of the women was pregnant when the Pulwama incident took place. They need someone to earn now. Moreover, this is a precedent that already exists,” he added.
On Monday, Pilot had met the widows of the personnel. He wrote to the CM urging him to take action against the policemen who allegedly assaulted the protesters when they went to meet the CM at his residence Saturday. He also asked the state government to sympathetically consider the requests of the families.
“If there are any changes that have to be made in the rules then the state government should do it. The matter is related to family members of martyrs,” he had said.
Meena said that the families had met Pilot because Gehlot was not giving them an audience. They also demanded a meeting with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi.
“Pilot assured them that the meeting (with Priyanka Gandhi) would happen and then he vanished,” said Meena.
ThePrint reached Pilot over text and WhatsApp messages and calls for a comment on this issue but received no response till the time of publishing of this report.
(Edited by Anumeha Saxena)
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