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Pulwama Attack: How You Can Help the Families of CRPF Martyrs Rebuild Their Lives

Pulwama Attack: How You Can Help the Families of CRPF Martyrs Rebuild Their Lives

VeerNari Shakti has reached out to over 2,000 martyr widows and over 2,500 war-disabled soldier families. It has given them all a second shot at life.

On February 14, a CRPF paramilitary convoy of about 2,547 troopers was returning to its base in Srinagar after a brief vacation. Just then, an SUV loaded with explosives rammed into one of the vehicles.

One of the deadliest terror attacks throughout the turbulent history of insurgency in Kashmir, the dastardly attack left behind a casualty of 44 soldiers. About 45 severely wounded personnel continue to battle for their lives.

While the incident has left the nation reeling in shock and anger, the lives of affected families and dependents will never be the same again.

A final salute to the Pulwama martyrs. Source: Twitter.

Unlike the support and aid lent to families of martyred officers, rehabilitative measures for those from non-gazetted ranks( Sepoys, Jawans, Naiks, Airmen, Seaman, Corporal, etc.) rarely go beyond monetary support. Financial support certainly serves as a short-term solution, but what it fails to address is the trauma and grief of the families of the soldiers as well as sustainable rehabilitation needs.

VeerNari Shakti Resettlement Foundation is a non-profit organisation, working to address this disparity in the defence forces—not just the tri-forces but also central armed police and paramilitary forces like the CRPF, BSF, NSG, CISF, AR, SSB and ITBP—for over a decade.

Over those ten years, VeerNari Shakti has given a second shot at life to over 2,000 martyr widows and over 2,500 war-disabled soldier families.

Started by a group of folks from military backgrounds, it includes war disabled veterans, senior retired officials and children of former military officers. The VeerNari Shakti Foundation focused on supporting the resettlement of war/ martyr soldier widows (Veer Naris) as well as the dependents of war-disabled soldiers and families in a sustainable and holistic manner across India and Nepal.

If you wish to help the widows and orphaned children of Pulwama martyrs to rebuild their lives, join VeerNari Shakti Foundation in its rehabilitation endeavours by donating here.

“The initial allocation of funds to martyr widows by the state does anything but help the affected families to stand on their feet again, especially those from junior-most ranks. Since most of us were from the defence background, including martyr widows and war disabled soldiers, our knowledge over the existence of the grey areas in rehabilitation was through direct observation. We wanted to support via a sustainable and structured approach, primarily for war and martyr widows as well as their dependents, to help them rebuild their lives,” says one of founding and managing trustees who wished to remain unnamed as they wanted the focus to be on their work on not on themselves.

Formally registered in 2016, the Foundation is perhaps the only Centre-recognised organisation in the country working to alleviate the lives of martyr widows and families through holistic rehabilitative programs funded crowdsourcing campaigns. It exclusively works with and for Indian armed forces as well as paramilitary forces.

Alongside, they lend a special focus on orphaned girl children and destitute women through rehabilitation initiatives, in collaboration with the Ministry of Woman and Child Development.

Courtesy: VeerNari Shakti Foundation.

Their wide-ranging expert advisory board includes motivational speakers, war and martyr widows from the tri-forces & ITBP, retired army officers, war disabled soldiers, scientists from Ministry of Defence, Supreme Court senior lawyers, ophthalmic doctors, gynaecology surgeons, consultant clinical psychologists as well as professionals from Learning & Development, Public health and Corporate sectors.

The Foundation’s rehabilitation program has been comprehensively assembled to meet the needs and circumstances of the affected beneficiaries. Under this, one of the major aspects includes counselling by clinical psychologist consultants for a minimum period of six months.

“This time is crucial for not just the martyr widows but also us as the functionaries. While these women slowly get back on their lives, we try to understand their mental state. Then we try to find job opportunities in areas that interest them and facilitate tie-ups with renowned organisations for short skilling programmes that would enable them to plan self or group start-ups,” they add.

You may also like: Families of Martyrs Too Have Dreams. Why is Our Nation Looking to Curb Them?

As most of the martyr widows of junior ranks hail from sub-urban towns and do not have very high educational or technical qualifications, offering them jobs in the corporate sector is neither helpful nor sustainable, owing to its competitive work culture.

“Instead, we try to tie up with universities and organisations that can set up canteens, retail kiosks, creche, plant nurseries, etc. This way, there is income flowing in with relatively less pressure, which would amount more than the paltry widow pension provided by the state,” they add.

Through their painstaking efforts, the Foundation is covering the grey areas that even the forces are struggling to conquer.

“Contrary to the idea that civilians have about ex gratia, the amount provided by the state to widows and families of low-ranking soldiers is barely enough to make ends meet. For instance, how can you expect a martyr widow with two children to survive on a monthly pension of Rs 7,000-8,000 as only 10 per cent of them get the special pension? But that is how it is. This makes our work of long-term and sustainable rehabilitation of the affected families all the more crucial,” they add.

VeerNari Shakti Resettlement Foundation is now on a mission to raise funds for the families of the Pulwama martyrs through the online crowdfunding portal, LetzChange.

Kargil War Widows group. Courtesy: VeerNari Shakti Foundation.

“The CRPF soldiers who succumbed in the attack and the ones who are battling for their lives—they were all from the lowermost ranks in the force, namely head constables and constables. And almost 98 per cent of them were married. More than CSR initiatives, we want common people to show solidarity and make donations for the families of our fallen soldiers. We believe that Indians are quite capable of helping our martyrs,” they conclude.

If you wish to help the widows and orphaned children of Pulwama martyrs to rebuild their lives, join VeerNari Shakti Foundation in its rehabilitation endeavours by donating here.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)


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