DW BUREAU / Chandigarh
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday restored the Special Family Pension for widows of government employees killed by extremists, and also agreed to extend the Red Card scheme to families of police personnel killed during the militancy period.
The Special Pension Scheme was revoked by the erstwhile Akali government in 2016 and Captain Amarinder had promised to restore the same if the Congress came to power in the state. The Chief Minister further announced that the pension under the scheme would be made available to the widow till her death as against the earlier provision of it being provided until her remarriage.
Acceding to a request from the families of the police martyrs, the Chief Minister assured them that they would also get the Red Cards, so far being issued only to civilian victims of terrorism, with immediate effect. Noting that the Punjab Police hd a history of gallantry and sacrifice, the Chief Minister recalled that Punjab had witnessed a tough phase during militancy and peace was restored after great sacrifices.
Captain Amarinder further promised the martyrs’ families that their demand for posting of their children, recruited in the armed police, near their home districts would be sympathetically considered by the government.
The Chief Minister made the announcements on the eve of the Martyrs Day at the Punjab Police Headquarters here.
Captain Amarinder offered tributes to the martyrs of the police force and, for the first time in Punjab police history, lit the eternal flame, besides interacting with families of martyrs. Pointing out that the state had a total of 1600 martyrs, including SPOs and Home Guards, the Chief Minister reiterated his government’s commitment to the welfare of the force and their families, including the families of the martyred police personnel. The Special Family Pension, for which necessary directions had already been issued to the DGP, will be given to widow or mother of the deceased government employee killed by or during action against extremists, he said.
The pension amount will be equal to the last pay drawn at the time of the death of the personnel, said the Chief Minister, adding that the widows of the martyrs “are a part of our family and it is our duty to take care of them.” Observing that police personnel work in extremely tough conditions, at times working 24 hours at a stretch and spending prolonged periods away from their families, the Chief Minister lamented that they lacked even basic facilities such as proper housing, healthcare, children’s education etc. Families of police personnel killed in action often live a life of poverty and destitution, he added.
Pointing out that his government had already given ex-gratia compensation and jobs to children of some of the policemen killed by extremists and shall continue to do so, the Chief Minister further assured the police personnel and their families that more welfare initiatives for them would be announced over the next few months.
The Martyrs memorial, built at the entrance of Punjab Police Headquarters, is a humble tribute of the Punjab Police to the memory of its martyrs. The spirit of the memorial is underlined by a famous quote from the Poem, “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon, composed in 1914 during the outbreak of First World War. It reads: “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.” The memorial has a series of commemorative plaques with physical markings of martyr’s names etched on them. Speaking on the occasion, DGP Suresh Arora said he got the idea to install the Martyrs Flame with the names of martyrs on the wall during a visit to NYPD Headquarters in New York.