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I fought as I didn't want to be a burden on anyone: Indira Jadhav

Saturday, 16 August 2014 - 5:00am IST | Agency: dna

Indira Jadhav, a 1965 Indo-Pak war widow, who fought with government authorities for close to 50 years for a piece of land is a happy woman today.

The Bombay high court on August 5 ruled in her favour. Pulling up the government for treating a war widow shoddily, the court said she should get the land within six weeks. On Tuesday, representatives of the Khed district collector, Ratnagiri, met the 74-year-old at her home in Chinchwad, Pune, and took her signature on an application form for allotment of agricultural land.

Speaking to dna on the eve of Independence Day, Jadhav said she continued her fight for so many years because she never wanted to depend on anyone. Her husband Babaji, a sepoy in the Maratha Light Infantry, was killed in action on October 27, 1965, in Ladakh.

"After my husband passed away, I decided to pursue vocational courses and complete my education... I wanted to be independent and not be a burden on anyone," she said. "My parents and in-laws were very supportive and loving. But I couldn't depend on them throughout my life."

When Jadhav took up stitching classes, which was slightly far from her house and in an isolated area, her worried mother asked her not to pursue it. "My mom said, 'there's no need for you to work. Stay with me'. But how could I depend on her and my brother. He too had a family to support." Jadhav lost her father when she was 6-years-old.

She has come a long way from that stitching class. And the journey was not smooth. "But I would like to remember those good people who helped me piece my life together. My stitching class teachers ... those who taught me when I was doing my DEd. They constantly encouraged me; which is why I never lost faith in myself. Even the Sainik Board authorities were very helpful.

"I was entitled to Rs100 a month in the 1980s when I decided to restart my education. 'Sir' (a senior Sainik Board officer) used to ask me to have almonds and milk as I was studying. I can never forget their support."

But she got a raw deal from government authorities who kept turning down her request and did not give her the possession of a piece of land that had already been allotted to her.

"They treated me like a dog. Nobody bothered to take me seriously when I visited the offices of the collector and others," she said. "Now after the high court order, they are coming to me to take my signature..."

It was during a book launch by Gurukrupa Sanstha, which works towards helping needy people, that Jadhav met Prashant Thorat who helped her pursue her case legally. Jadhav filed a petition in the high court through advocates Avinash Gokhale and Mayuresh Modgi in 2013.

But Jadhav is happy that justice has prevailed. She finds solace in the fact that other war widows will not have to knock on the doors of the high court to get what is rightfully theirs. "I am grateful to justices (VM) Kanade, (Abhay) Oka and (AS) Chandurkar who ensured that justice prevails. They have never seen me as I could not go to court because of my ill health.... but this order will help other war widows as well."

The high court has directed the state government to ensure that not only Jadhav, but also other war widows are granted relief expeditiously.

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