Watch: War Hero's 'Marathon' Battle for Dignity

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  • Published On: July 24, 2014
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Major DP Singh is well-versed in endurance. The solider who bravely fought for India in the Kargil War has run 12 half-marathons. He was 25 when mortar fire from Pakistan ripped through his body. At first, he was declared dead at the field hospital where he was taken by other soldiers. When he was revived, his right leg was amputated.

A diagnosis that could have left a 20-something devastated was read with trademark enterprise as an opportunity. "When the amputation news was shared with me, I thought perhaps this is God-gifted. I thought this is a new challenge to find out how people like me live. And perhaps someday I will become, I will do something which will be a motivation for my type of people."

So the former officer became set on turning into India's Blade Runner. "Sikh religion is... you know, Guru has taught us to be Saint and Soldier. I just lost a leg, nothing else...so how can I just start giving up on life? And of course after going into the army...we are trained to survive in each type of condition and I am actually indebted to my religion and army who made my personality whatever I am today."

That indefatigable spirit prompted him into motivational speaking. But there has been another full-time occupation - fighting a compassionless bureaucracy, not just for his full pension, but to be recognized officially as a war-wounded soldier.

DP Singh was on duty at the Akhnoor border on the Jammu side when he was injured - he has been told that was outside the theatre of war, or where operations were conducted.

"The area where I was posted is the most difficult area when there is a war," he said to NDTV. "Now you know somebody who is sitting in an air-conditioned office...it is very difficult to find the line of war," he says. "I had to go to court...to the armed forced tribunal to prove that I am a war casualty inspite of the fact that I have received recognition and rewards," he said.

He is consigned to receiving disability pension, and not that due to a war-injured soldier, which would entitle him to the salary he was receiving when he was hurt. To make matters worse, on record, his disability was reduced in an unexplained decision from 100 percent to 90 percent, reducing the pension he would get.

"Should a young solider heading into service worry about what address to list so that his parents are ensured of a pension if he dies in duty? Should he have to concern himself with whether pension is a state issue or handled by the Centre? I mean who the hell has so much of time ...there you are, fighting with passion."

He has spent the last seven years locked in litigation and pushing files for not just his dues, but also his dignity.

Two years ago, the Armed Forces Tribunal which functions as a court that handles petitions about pensions and promotions ruled in his favour. That judgement has still not been implemented, he says.

What he gets today for the sacrifice he made is Rs 14,000 a month. Documents in his file that list addresses for his parents and him at different points in his life mean that he has been shuttling between the bureaucracies of three different states, seeking assistance. Not one state has helped so far.

"Did I fight for Uttarakhand? Or UP? Or Delhi....who did I fight for? Can someone explain this to me?" he asks, referring to the insult of being made to ask different states for what is his due.

His question is one that commemorative anniversaries like this - 15 years after Kargil - must force the nation to answer.

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