Former UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, made a senseless comment on Wednesday saying that no soldier from Gujarat has ever been martyred.
The incongruous comment has attracted flak from citizens and from families of soldiers alike.
Here are some facts:
Kodiyavada village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat has 1200 out of a total population of 6500 serving in the armed forces. Of the 700 houses in the village, more than one person from each home serves the nation.
As of March 31, 2017, there are 26,656 ex-servicemen in the state and 3,517 widows of soldiers.
39 brave soldiers from Gujarat have been awarded gallantry medals. 20 have laid down their lives fighting terrorism and 24 have been martyred securing the frontiers.
The statement of Akhilesh Yadav caused a huge uproar and attracted intense criticism. Rajshree, the widow of Mukesh Rathod who died bravely in the Kargil War, commented,
Akhilesh’s statement was heart wrenching. We have been talking about it since we first heard it on television. Martyrs don’t belong to any state, they belong to the country. Losing them is not any state’s loss but nation’s loss.
Rajshree was five months pregnant when she lost her husband. Her son, Mrugesh, is now 17-years-old. Samjuben Rathod, Mukesh Rathod’s mother said,
Only those who have lost their son, husband, brother or father can relate to our pain of losing Mukesh. My son was one among the 13 soldiers from Gujarat who lost their lives in the Kargil war. Our sorrow and sense of loss is beyond the comprehension of politician like Akhilesh.
65-year-old Jagdish Soni, brother of Captain Nilesh Soni who lost his life along with 11 others while defending Siachin Glacier in 1987, echoed the feelings. He said,
It deeply saddens me to see that martyrs are now being segregated by states. In my opinion, Akhilesh Yadav does not know much about Gujarat and should not have made such a frivolous comment.
Martyr Major Rushikesh Ramani was killed while fighting terrorists in Kupwara. His mother, Geeta Ramani, is proud of the fact that her son died for the motherland. She commented,
I gave birth to Rushikesh and Bharatmaa (India) nurtured him. Mothers don’t differentiate between their sons on the basis of state, caste or religion. Akhileshji has made a political statement by saying that there have been no martyrs from Gujarat.
I can give him at least 10 names of those belonging to Gujarat who lost their lives for the country. We are in touch with most of the families who lost a son, brother, husband or father. Akhileshji should have checked the figures before making such statements.
Lance Naik Gopal Singh Bhadoria’s father, Munim Singh, aptly commented,
Akhileshji has been voted out of UP and he has lost decorum and mental balance. He is trying to divide the country with frivolous statements.
A person who failed to be a son to his father can surely not be a son of the country. He has often been resorting to such divide and rule tactics in UP. He has divided Hindus and Muslims as well as Rajputs, Thakurs and Brahmins. Therefore he had been voted out of UP. The people of the country cannot forgive him. He spoke about Gujarat’s donkeys and now he has proved that he doesn’t even have the brain of a donkey.
The ex-servicemen community of Gujarat raised similar concerns and had similar things to say. They also highlighted the fact that the lower representation of Gujarat in the armed forces is because of the mindset of the people in the state. Gujarati people have faced lesser war time atrocities than people in J&K, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and UP.