By Sreyashi Mazumdar
Amid a serpentine crowd thronging the streets of Jantar Mantar, with media houses clamouring for a posey coverage, the 80-year-old embattled ex-soldier was waiting for the silver lining yet to run into his way. Being put down by the system after rendering his youth to the country, he feels cheated.
“Mar Jawan mar kisan, na rahe nishan”, read a board dangling from his neck. In an attempt at essaying his silent struggle, the grey-haired has been carrying this whiteboard for a considerable stint now. His sullen eyes divulge a streak of gloominess, his heart wrenching at the central government’s nonchalance and its dictatorial attempt at curbing his say; his fight for a uniform pension plan.
Despite their relentless efforts, the retired army men are struggling hard to get hold of their desired end. The protest at Jantar Mantar which has crossed half a century of hour days is still finding it difficult to stand its ground. Adding insult to injury, the protesting army men were subjected to the government’s high-handedness today. A marching army of policemen had almost shaken their grounds, cracking down upon their cry for justice.
“The government didn’t even notify us of their plans. We were almost forced out of the camps. The police charged at us all of a sudden. They tried to dismantle the stage, they started pulling off posters and banners. They even took away the generators. I have been here for 70 days now. I have come here all the way from Uttarakhand and it seems that we have been enchained by the policies of the government,” said Baba Uday Singh Rawat.
On being asked about his views on independence, he lamented, “Why are we even celebrating independence day. Here we are not even getting our awaited share, we are being asked to stop our protests which is uncalled for.”
“Gore chale gaye, kale-gore chhor gaye“, reiterated Arindar Rana, who was awestruck at the government’s attitude. “Whatever happened today – without a prior notice- had shattered us for a while. We tried to stop them,” he added.
“Mubarakho aapne hindustan hila diya,” interrupted Rana’s colleague who congratulated him on his prevalence over the police attacks in the wee hours of the morning.
“We have lost faith in the government. I was browsing through the TV channels at my home and it is then I got to testify the ruthless attacks launched by the police on the protesting ex-army men. I feel sad today, we will be celebrating Independence Day today and this is what is happening to our ex-army men,” bemoaned Bgdr. R.M. Sharma.
“I gave you my youth…
You gave me my boot…”
The entire stretch of Jantar Mantar was reverberating with voices in unison demanding justice. Fleshing out the rebel inside them, the ex-servicemen promised to continue their struggle with utter austerity, thus expounding snippets of the freedom movement which fetched India its independence in the year 1947.