Distribution of ex gratia, other donations offered to kin of Pulwama victims needs a systematic distribution channel

At the moment, there is no doubting the sincerity of the donations and ex-gratia payments being offered by state governments, companies and celebrities to the next of kin of the 42 CRPF jawans killed in the Pulwana terror attack. That four Indian Army soldiers were killed in the post-blast combing operations calls for having their names added to the honour list of the fallen.

While it is heartening to see the vast and tangible support, there is no harm in exercising caution. The lakhs of rupees, housing offers, jobs and other forms of assurances such as contributions of salaries by cricketers, boxers and film stars all come to an impressive amount of largesse. Unless properly disbursed and given to the right people legally and with binding fiat, there could be more upheaval in the lives of families that have already been shattered.

The government has the onus to establish some ground rules through the armed forces or the police and appoint a senior official to act as an ombudsman who can be witness to the accurate distribution and fruition of these pledges. The CRPF Wives Welfare Association would be the ideal conduit for this sensitive operation.

Distribution of ex gratia, other donations offered to kin of Pulwama victims needs a systematic distribution channel

Family members mourn in Howrah during cremation of a CRPF jawan who died in the
Pulwama terror attack. PTI

It is necessary to keep in mind the frailty of the family dynamics and the appearance of middlemen lured by greed. All family members do not grieve with the same intensity, and it is a fact of life that with time, memory and rage both fade, and it would be unseemly to leave these promises unfulfilled.

It is incumbent upon each state government to ensure that the wife of the slain soldier is made the first priority along with the children and then the parents. Protecting them and doing the very best to ensure that this sudden lucre does not create a schism is mandated and cannot be understated.

By the same token, it must be overseen that these lofty promises of several lakhs are fulfilled and are not whittled down to lower numbers with time. In many such situations, we never really come to know if the fiscal comfort was actually given as per the pledge.

Film icon Amitabh Bachchan struck the right note when he asked how he should make his contribution and to whom.

If there is no clarity — and there is none beyond announcements at this time — not only does it leave room for possible reneging on the offers, but it also just boils down to publicity received, statements of intent made and nothing really donated.

Who gets the 2BHK that CREDIA is offering? Into whose account does the ex gratia flow? Which schools are on the 'to go' list for the children, and will they honour their commitment? These and a hundred other questions will need to be answered.

We have seen this sort of scenario during natural calamities, and then it all goes poof and no one knows the end result of who got what and even whether the sanctions had sanctity.

This is not even a question of casting aspersions. It is just simply common sense to channel the generosity and ensure it does not spill into feuds and fights in stricken families.

You might think it is too early to be cynical. Perhaps. But it is less cynicism and more concern. For unless the widows are protected and not intimidated, and the fatherless children given specific assurance for their education and a fund established that offers much the same comfort to every uniformed individual killed in action henceforth, we might just be guilty of grandstanding.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Feb 19, 2019 14:32:54 IST

Also See