Martyr’s family pained at Army’s apathy

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It was a moment that the family of Major Pramod Purushottam, who sacrificed his life while fighting terrorists virtually bare handed in Kashmir to save three journalists 14 years ago, was looking forward to.

But it was not to be.

The Army recently decided to honour Maj Purushottam at the Srinagar-based 15 Corps but did not bother to call his wife Lt Col (retd) Valsa Purushottam or his daughter Pallavi in time for the event where his bust was to be unveiled.

The Major’s 94-year-old father, K M Purushottam, who is bedridden for the last four years, stares at his picture hanging on the wall, hardly able to hide his emotion.

Purushottam bitterly recalls how he had to virtually fight it out with the army authorities after his son was killed in 1999 for some honour to be given to him for his supreme valour.

The nonagenarian’s elder son Vinod chips in and pieces together the broken sentence of his father. “Daddy says it took them four years even to get a simple ‘Badge of Sacrifice’ from the Army authorities.”

“Even now, army rubs salts into our wounds. If they were so serious to ensure that the family should be at the function of unveiling the bust of my brother, all they could do was to be systematic and inform us well in advance,” says Vinod.

Vinod said that he had received a call from Lt Col N N Joshi on the evening of February 18 asking whether it was possible for them to attend the function at Srinagar on February 22. “How is it possible in such a short span of time?” he asked.

Valsa says she was not even called as a matter of courtesy. “My going or not going is not important but at least make an effort to reach to the family of the soldier who has upheld the name of the army by making such a supreme sacrifice,” she said.

“I have nothing against the army as an institution. Ever since I have taken voluntary retirement, I have kept myself off of any engagements or the army,” she said.