The political degradation of the India was once again on display in the capital of the country — politicising the death of the Late Subedar Ram Kishen Grewal who was also Sarpanch of Bamla Village of Haryana. As per media reports, Ram Kishen Grewal, an ex-serviceman protesting against the anomalies in the One Rank One Pension (Orop) scheme, allegedly committed suicide in New Delhi late Tuesday night. He has purportedly left a suicide note saying that he is taking his life due to the delay in meeting the demands of the army veterans. He is reported to have consumed poison in the lawns behind Jawahar Bhawan.
Another media report says Ram Kishen Grewal, 65 allegedly poisoned himself on the lawns of a government building in Delhi on Tuesday afternoon. In a suicide note, he said he still had not received the increased pension promised by the government under its one-rank-one pension scheme. Police reportedly told PTI that Ram Kishen Grewal, along with some other ex-servicemen, was in the process of submitting a memorandum to the Defence Ministry over the issue of Orop. According to his friends, Grewal had been upset over the issue for some time.
The ironic part is the manner in which the suicide has been politicised; Congress VP, Delhi CM, Delhi CM all in Dharna outside Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. The mobs accompanied them forced the police to close the gates of the hospital, which automatically denied entry to patients who needed to come to the hospital – but that is India. Delhi CM tweeted, “Both farmers and soldiers are committing suicide in Modi Raj. That means the Prime Minister is lying that Orop has been implemented. Why would Ram Kishan ji have committed suicide if Orop was being implemented?” Kejriwal is expected to visit the Grewal family in Haryana.
It is not the smirk and smile of the politicians while being interviewed on TV was noticeable, but the quick-time manner in which they made a beeline to the hospital scene can hardly rule out something more to the episode. Has any one of these politicians merrily politicising a soldier’s suicide bothered to lay a single flower on the bodies of martyred soldiers that arrive by air in Delhi periodically and are honoured by the army before being ceremonially dispatched to their native places? Did these politicians, or for that matter any politician, ever send even one of their representatives to do so if it is too inconvenient for their lifestyles? Has any politician ever seen the dilapidated corner at Delhi Airport with hustle-bustle of vehicles and other activities in close proximity, where bodies of martyred soldiers are honoured by the army after being taken down from aircraft? Are any of these politicians aware that earlier the spot where the bodies of army martyrs were laid at Delhi airport was most appropriate but was shifted arbitrarily without reference to the army? Will any of these politicians visit the said spot now and ensure its relocation as earlier? Not a chance, one can assume.
Now let us look at the suicide of Ram Kishen Grewal. When the agitation at Jantar Mantar began in 2015, there were reportedly veterans at that venue who were worked up. Even then veterans did not resort to violence, leave aside attempt suicide. Much has happened since then. Orop was sanctioned but not in full because the definition of Orop as accepted by two Parliaments was misread by design or default. There has been much heartburn on the issue but the anomalies were brought to the notice of the government that led to the appointment of the single member Reddy Commission. This commission was given extension and finally submitted its recommendations to the government last week. Ram Jethmalani took up the veterans cause for grant of full Orop at with the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the FM stuck to his guns and stated on the floor of the Parliament “there are many definitions of Orop”, which is his definition.
On 29 October, the government letter for revised pension as per 7th CPC was also issued that instructed pension disbursing authority to implement revised pension without awaiting any further instructions. Most banks have confirmed that the revised pension and arrears will be credited to account of veterans latest by 8 November. Ram Kishen Grewal was a veteran Junior Commissioned Officer. He was educated, and also Sarpanch of his village. No doubt the matter of grant of full Orop remains but it really should not have been the cause of him taking his life. Didn’t he celebrate Diwali with his family and why did he commit the act immediately after Diwali?
There certainly would be other veterans and serving soldiers in his village. If he was agitated past few days, was it on the issue of Orop? Did he discuss it with other veterans and serving soldiers? Did he approach the Zila Sainik Welfare Officer and the State administration? Did he meet the MLA under whose jurisdiction his village fell and if he did, did she, being from the opposition party, motivate him for such an act? Isn’t it quite possible that his suicide was motivated to draw political mileage from it? Nothing really can be ruled out; he could have been depressed for other reasons and the breaking point could have been fuelled by certain forces. Did he buy the poison himself or was he supplied with something and told that it would be possible to revive him eventually? Did he take the poison himself or did someone administer it to him?
The suicide note itself raises numerous questions. Did he write it himself and carried it along with the poison for use in the event he could not meet MoD authorities. Whom did he expect to meet in the government building? Why would he commit suicide on the lawns of a government building? Or, was the suicide note planted on him? These are issues that the police sleuths surely would need to look at.
But with all said and done, the bottom-line is that politicising a dead soldier amounts to Dance of the Barbarians.
The author is veteran Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.