Lost his legs in ’71 war, hopes for better life after OROP Scheme

Lost his legs in ’71 war, hopes for better life after OROP Scheme

With the age of only 21 years, Dharampal Singh lost both his legs in the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh. He is now 65 and runs a small business in Udaipur and hopes that a better future will follow with the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.

 

With the age of only 21 years, Dharampal Singh lost both his legs in the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh. He is now 65 and runs a small business in Udaipur and hopes that a better future will follow with the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme. 

The war veteran, however, could not make it to the protests at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. “I would have liked to join the protesters at Jantar Mantar. Unfortunately, I could not do so since my health would not allow me to. Delhi is far from Udaipur. The journey itself would have been very difficult for me. Besides, it would cause me a lot of pain to sit on a protest for long,” said Singh, who was in Meerut to attend an event organized by his regiment on Saturday. The veteran said the Central government’s announcement on the implementation of the OROP scheme has brought him great joy. “It is going to make life much better now. We are still waiting for the full details of the scheme and we are yet to see how much the increase in pension would be. I am sure the government will keep its word. Though I could not join my fellow ex-servicemen in the protest, I am glad they managed to win this crucial battle.” Singh joined the Army as a 19-year-old in 1969. While he was not there in the service when the war of 1965 was fought, he said India’s victory had a huge influence on his life. “There was a mood of jubilation across the nation after we heard the news of Indian troops crushing Pakistani tanks. I was just 15 years old and the mood of the nation had an effect on me as well. I was filled with enthusiasm and decided to enlist in the Army when I came off age. In 1969, I finally joined the Army and even got the chance to fight for my country in 1971.” Recalling the day he lost his legs, the veteran said, “We thought the fighting in the Sialkot sector will be fierce, but the Pakistanis did not even stand a chance against us. Their defeat in 1971 was even more convincing than the one in 1965. In the December of 1971, we launched an offensive. Despite shelling from the enemy side, we pushed forward. One such enemy shell hit me and I lost my legs. The Pakistani troops had to flee their posts after the shelling. They did not even stay on to fight. My legs had to be amputated and I spent eight months in a hospital. It was only in August 1972 that I was discharged from hospital. I had to retire from service soon after I left the hospital. I am proud of the role I played in that war.”

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