Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Indian Railways take Fauji Veterans taken for a ride

Mamata's patriotic song becomes swansong for ex-servicemen
By Quaid Najmi | IANS – Sun, Sep 18, 2011

Mumbai, Sep 18 (IANS) Former railway minister Mamata Bannerjee's patriotic song for the country's armed forces and promise of railway jobs for ex-servicemen became quite a hook for many a battle-scarred ex-soldier. But now they would like to make it their swansong.

Lured by the promise of a permanent job, ex-servicemen responded to a railway recruitment drive across its divisions earlier this year, in the chimeric hope of a rewarding new career.

When they finally got their appointment letters in June, however, they were shocked to find that they had been placed as cleaners, waiters, loaders, and in other menial positions.

Many claim that they were short-changed even with regard to pay and other emoluments as compared with what they got in the Army, Navy and Air Force or would have got in the private sector.

One such applicant, Venkateshu Sanjiva, of Karnataka had taken part in the action in Operation Bluestar in Punjab in 1984, and also during the Kargil war.

After retirement from the Indian Army as a technical-level store-keeper, he joined Reliance in Navi Mumbai, managing its labour camp on a monthly salary of around Rs.20,000.

'I responded with great hope to the Central Railway (CR) advertisement this year and quit my private job to re-join government service. I was aghast to be appointed as a cleaner in the canteen at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in Mumbai,' Sanjiva told IANS.

A former Army Medical Corps store-keeper, Santosh Salvi of Thane, had a similar experience: he was placed as a cleaner-cum-loader in pantry cars of long distance trains originating in CST.

'I have served in places like Assam, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala under extremely trying circumstances. Now, I am reduced to a pantry car cleaner-cum-loader after 24 years' military service,' Salvi rued.

A resident of Ahmednagar, Sunil Funde, who retired as a store-keeper (technical) in remote border areas after 25 years, is now a cleaner in the central railway canteen at CST and, at times, doubles as a waiter.

Former army subedar D.V. Bhoite said he 'feels totally let-down' after getting an appointment letter as a cleaner in the CST canteen.
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