October 22, 2017

Widow of WW-II freedom fighter in dire straights

Sheela Devi (95), widow of a freedom fighter Bishan Dass Vayas, has been running from pillar to post for the last 40 years, so far, the sacrifices of her late husband have not been recognised by the state or Union governments. She is penniless and spending fag end of her life with her daughter in Baroh village. Bishan Dass Vayas, husband of Sheela Devi, was in the Indian Army during the British rule between 1940 and 1945. Later, he also served in the “Azad Hind Fauj” led by Neta Ji Subhash Chander Bose. He also participated in the Second World War, so he was to be included in the category of freedom fighters and his family was eligible for all benefits being given to the freedom fighters in the country. Vayas died in 1970, thereafter, the miseries of Sheela Devi began. In the past 40 years, Sheela Devi made all efforts to get her husband’s name included in the category of freedom fighters as per the policy of the Union Government. Since his other colleagues who fought the Second World War, their families were receiving all benefits such as pension and other financial assistances from the state and Union governments. Unfortunately, Sheela Devi was denied all the benefits. The team that met Sheela Devi at Baroh village, 50 kilometers from Palampur, where she has been residing with her daughter, bent with age, wearing thick glasses and tears rolling down her cheeks, Sheela Devi said she was hand to mouth these days, with no bank balance and no source of income. She said she was grateful to her poor daughter who had given her shelter in her house and providing her food and clothes. Sheela said in the past 40 years, she has visited a number of government offices, including the Kangra Deputy Commissioner, SDM , MLAs and ministers but all in vain, no one was ready to recognise the sacrifices of her husband. She said she had all records of service of her husband. People’s Voice, an NGO of Kangra, now had come to her rescue and decided to highlight her case in the media and other administrative and political forums. Neelam Sood, convener of the NGO, asked the state government to look into her case and she be included in the category of freedom fighters.

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Senior editor with Himsamachar

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