Gallantry Medal winner gets back ex-serviceman recognition

Gallantry Medal winner gets back ex-serviceman recognition

Mysuru:  A former Sepoy, who was denied the status of an ex-serviceman, has now got back the recognition after 10 years and is eligible for government jobs. He will also receive all the benefits and emoluments from the Indian Army.

The Sepoy is Lance Naik L. Siddappaji, who was decorated with Sena Medal, a Gallantry Award, in 2004 and is now working as a private security guard in Mysuru after being denied of ex-serviceman status. Star of Mysore had published a report about Siddappaji on April 25, 2015 and the report was titled: “Army Gallantry Award winner is not an Ex-serviceman!? Siddappaji, a Sena Medal Winner in 2004 now works as a private security guard.”

Siddappaji was attached to the 18 Maratha Light Infantry and was posted in hostile terrain of Jammu and Kashmir.  On Jan. 19, 2004, terrorists struck his post and one of them opened fire at Sepoy Siddappaji and lobbed a grenade forcing Siddappaji to take cover and also engage the terrorist who was hit but kept on firing at him. Using limited cover available, Siddappaji closed in to engage the enemy and in a face-to-face combat, killed the terrorist.

For his initiative and display of exceptional courage in the face of threat to his own life, Siddappaji was awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry) and he received it on Aug. 15, 2004.  Unfortunately, even after winning the Medal, he was not covered under the definition of ex-serviceman. As such, he was not entitled to any benefits from the Army.

Any armed forces personnel, after being discharged on their own request prior to completion of initial term of engagement, are not covered under the definition of ex-servicemen with effect from July 1, 1987. If they have put in more than five years of service, the most they can access is canteen facilities.

After four years of receiving the Gallantry medal, Siddappaji sought voluntary discharge from the Army as he had to look after his ailing mother. But he was not recognised as an ex-serviceman as he did not put in the stipulated period of service to receive the defence pension. Without any alternative, he took up job as a contract private security guard to eke out a living.  

Siddappaji approached the President of city-based Vekare Ex-Servicemen Trust (VeKET) Mandetira N. Subramani and due to the efforts of the Trust, Siddappaji is now eligible for government jobs (through the mandatory selection process where he will come under ex-servicemen reservation category) besides an enhancement in his emoluments. He was recently issued an ex-serviceman identity card and the exercise to increase monetary benefits due to him is under process.

January 5, 2018

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