After over two decades of service, he was declared deserter without post-retirement benefits
A sepoy, who had served more than two decades with the Indian Army and missed the deadline of re-joining duty reportedly on account of his wife’s illness, is forced to work as a daily-wager without post-retirement benefits in Odisha.
Chanduram Majhi (51), a resident of Paraskhol in Nuapada district, belongs to the Gond tribe and was the first from his family to be selected as a sepoy in 1988. As part of his association with the Army Service Corps (ASC), he had worked in various places, from Gaya to Srinagar and Chandigarh to New Jalpaiguri.
“During my long years of service in the Indian Army, I had dreamt of providing a good education and bright future to my daughters. By quirk of fate, I have now ended up working as a daily labourer and my four daughters had to drop out from school and college. They help me earn living,” lamented Mr. Majhi.
The tribal man from Odisha’s Nuapada district alleged he was a victim of bureaucracy and deprived of his legitimate dues.
“Until 2011, I was happy with life, with careering progressing at normal pace. My wife suddenly became ill and her became paralysed below the waist. I had to be by her side,” he narrated.
Mr. Majhi said he was promoted to Havildar in the ASC and was to retire on August 31, 2012. “I had even taken my last leave of my service. But my wife’s condition worsened so much that I could not rejoin on the scheduled date. I was declared a deserter by the ASC,” said Mr, Majhi.
His wife was admitted to different Army hospitals, including the Army Hospital Research and Referral, New Delhi. Despite all efforts, his wife died on November 13, 2012.
After his wife’s death, Mr. Majhi tried to contact his last ASC unit and avail his dues. He says the ASC shut the door on him. Following the intervention of the Rajya Sainik Board, he sent several missives to Ministry of Defence to regularise his service. Mr. Majhi claimed, “I was demoted and handed over for special punishment by my unit authorities in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017-18. I did not get any salary for that period.” In the past four years, he has received only ₹3.14 lakh, which he used to repay a loan in his village.
According to the Odisha tribal man, his post-retirement benefits would have been over ₹30 lakh.
Taking note of the traumatic life of the Army man, the Nuapada district administration has sought a detailed report. The administration has decided to begin communication with the Ministry of Defence on Mr. Majhi’s service detail.