Kelly Kislaya | Mar 6, 2019 | 5 min read
Promise and forget: A martyred BSF jawan's widow continues to fight for a job
Ranchi: Well before the plight of the families of the 40 CRPF jawans who were killed in the Pulwama terror attack last month united the entire nation, the predicaments of the widow of another martyr seems to have been forgotten with the passage of time in the absence of media frenzy.
In a small 12-feet-by-12-feet room in Jharkhand’s Madhuban village, Reshmi Upadhyay lives with her two toddlers and old parents. Her husband Sitaram Upadhyay, a BSF jawan, was martyred on 18 May 2018, during a ceasefire violation in Jammu.
Ten months later, the martyr’s young widow is still waiting for a job and a plot of land that the state government had promised her after the jawan’s death in the line of duty.
While she was given a financial compensation of Rs 10 lakh as promised in November 2018, on the occasion of Jharkhand Statehood Day, Reshmi is still running from pillar to post to get the other benefits she was promised.
“I have to look after seven people, my parents, my in-laws, two children and myself. There is no earning member in the family. How long will the compensation amount last?,” questions Reshmi about the future of the family.
Being the only child to her parents, Reshmi is responsible for taking care of her father who has weak hearing powers and a mother who is often ill. She also has the responsibility of her in-laws who live alone in their ancestral house in Giridih’s Palgunj village.
The fact that she is also the sole caretaker of her three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Siddhvi and two-and-a-half-year-old son Kanhaiya, makes her daily battle tougher.
“Apart from meeting the day-to-day requirements of food and other expenses, I also have to take care of medical bills of both my parents and in-laws and then there are the education expenses of my daughter also,” Reshmi said. Her financial burden is going to increase now as its time for her son to join a playschool.
The compensation she received from the government is being spent on all these expenses. “If I spend the entire money now, I would have nothing left for my children’s future and if I save money for their future, then I don’t have any means to meet the day-to-day expenses at present,” she says explaining her dilemma.
With no earning member in their entire family of seven, Reshmi is hoping that if she could get a government job, the future of her children would be secure. “After all, how long can I use a fixed amount of money to survive if there is no regular source of income? I was promised a government job according to my qualification but I still haven’t heard from them (administration),” she said.
The small one-bedroom-and-a-kitchen quarter Reshmi and her parents are living in was given to her father by a local Jain body where he used to work.
“The government had also promised us land. If I get it, we can finally have a home of our own and my children can have a permanent place to live in,” she said.
Ever since the compensation package was announced, Reshmi has been running to and fro from her village to the district administration office every other day, hoping for a positive sign.
“It takes around one-and-a-half hour to reach the district headquarters and I have to take my children with me everywhere because I cannot leave them with my old parents at home,” she rues.
Reshmi said that while she is proud of being a martyr’s wife, the hardships she is facing are just unbearable. As her eyes swell with tears, she prays that not even her enemies face what she is going through now. “Had my husband been alive, things would have been so much easier.”
The government had also promised to construct a statute of the martyr at a roundabout in his paternal Palgunj village, along with a welcome gate in his name. “Neither of the two has been done yet,” Reshmi said.
Block pramukh (head) of Peertand, Sikandar Hembrom, said he feels sorry about her. "We keep hearing that she runs to every government office to get a job but nothing is happening. I wish things are sorted out for her soon," he said.
Peertand is a Left-wing extremist (LWE) affected block with most of the population living below the poverty line. Local resident Kamal Nayan said, "I have interacted with Reshmi several times and I can see how she is passing her days in misery. She goes to people but all she gets is consolation.”
He pointed out that in LWE-affected areas where locals often choose the wrong path, Upadhyay had set an example by joining the BSF, despite coming from a not so financially strong family background. “Seeing the widow of that brave man in such pain is disheartening. Upadhyay deserves much more respect,” Nayan said.
Meanwhile, Giridih deputy commissioner Rajesh Kumar Pathak said Reshmi will soon be given her appointment letter. “She has already been selected by the district anukampa samiti (district compensation committee) for the job and the land but it has been put on hold due to the announcement of election dates. Once the elections are over and the code of conduct revoked, she would be given the appointment letter and all the other facilities,” promised the official.
The widow and her two children are now eagerly waiting for some good news.
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