The Punjab government is formulating a policy to award one-rank promotion for any defence or police personnel from the state winning a gallantry award in war or in peace time, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Monday, two days after senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP wrote to him urging to institutionalise mechanisms so that brave soldiers do not remain unrecognised.
“If any such officers or personnel wish to join the Punjab Police, their service and bravery would be given due recognition,” the chief minister said while pipping the stars of assistant sub-inspector (ASI) on the uniform of Satpal Singh, a Kargil War hero.
On July 26, on the 20th anniversary of the Kargil War, The Indian Express had reported that Satpal Singh was managing traffic as head constable at Bhawanigarh in Punjab’s Sangrur district. Satpal Singh had been awarded the Vir Chakra for his role in the Battle of Tiger Hill in which he killed Pakistan Army’s Capt Karnal Sher Khan who was later awarded his country’s highest gallantry award, the Nishan-e-Haider.
Taking cognisance of the report, Amarinder ordered a immediate double promotion for Satpal Singh as a special case and decided to recruit him as an ASI.
Pipping the stars on Satpal Singh’s uniform, the chief minister said what he had done now was merely a case of “too little too late” for the soldier.
Later, in a statement, Amarinder Singh said he had merely set right the “wrong perpetrated” on Satpal Singh by the previous SAD-BJP government, which he alleged had ignored the valour of the soldier and failed to give him the recognition and respect he deserved.
This, the chief minister said, should have been done at the time of Satpal Singh’s recruitment in 2010.
The chief minister said the policy to be drafted by his government would leave no scope for such “injustice”, adding that it would cover police gallantry award winners, including junior commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers, in addition to the soldiers of the defence forces.
Amarinder Singh said his government was committed to the welfare of current and former soldiers, saying their sacrifices to the nation and its people could not be allowed to go unrecognised. The chief minister said he was “pained” at hearing that Satpal was working as a senior traffic constable and wanted to give the dignity and respect he deserved.
Interestingly, Satpal Singh finds mention in Amarinder Singh’s book, ‘A Ridge Too Far – War in the Kargil Heights’. On Saturday, Bajwa had said that there was a need to have a better and proactive system of creating mechanisms, by which soldiers who return home, are recognized and taken care of by the state. “Sportspersons who win international medals are immediately recognized by the states. We need to create a similar system to ensure all soldiers who have received commendations for the immense sacrifices they have made are not forgotten,” Bajwa had said in the letter to the CM, adding that it was time the nation defends its soldiers by creating a better process by which the states can honour those who fought for the nation.