After keeping silent all this while on the allegations by a group of retired army officers, President Pratibha Patil has announced her decision to give up her proposed post-retirement accommodation in Pune.
The decision of the President to forego the proposed accommodation for her when she retires in July came after a group of retired army officers alleged that her bungalow is being built on defence land. They claimed that the land allotted to the President comes under the 'A1' category, which means it can be used only for defence purposes. They also claimed that the retirement home covers 5.2 acre of land though the President is eligible for only 4,500 sq feet.
Pained at fallacious observations regarding her post retirement home, President Pratibha Patil has decided to give up her proposed accommodation in Pune.
Here is the full text of the press release issued by Rashtapati Bhawan:
The President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil has been reading and watching the unfolding of some fallacious observations regarding the accommodation in Pune which she was to occupy after relinquishing the office of the President. She chose not to react as she has always held herself answerable to the Constitution of our country and her conscience. It was expected that once the facts were made public it would convince the concerned people. But despite clarifications given by the President's Secretariat, it is unfortunate that the misgivings continue to persist.
What has pained the President the most is the fact that she is now being portrayed by some people as one who, by agreeing to accept a defence accommodation for her post retirement home, is insensitive to the cause of war widows and ex-servicemen. But facts are to the contrary. She has always been proud of our brave jawans who are ever-ready to display their spirit of sacrifice while defending our borders. She has the highest regards for our war widows who have lost their dear ones for the sake of security and integrity of the nation. To express solidarity, boost their morale and to gain first hand experience of the hardships faced by our Defence Forces, she visited far flung army establishments like those in Tangdhar, Bhadarwah, Leh, to name a few, and several distant inhospitable forward areas in the North East. She would be the last person to ever think of dislocating or coming in the way of creating facilities for our war widows and ex-servicemen.
Women's issues have always been her concern and those of war widows particularly occupy a very special place in her mind. She has worked relentlessly towards their welfare and would like people to know that as Governor of Rajasthan she personally wrote to 1192 war widows to help resolve their problems. Here is an article which appeared in the Hindustan Times a few years ago which said:
"Away from the media glare, Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil is quietly attending to problems of hundreds of war widows. She has asked the war widows to contact or see her personally. Over 1000 letters have been posted in the past one month as the Raj Bhavan gets deluged with responses. Now, Patil receives around two dozen letters every day while a number of widows of martyrs meet her personally with problems. Their letters are being forwarded to the concerned department in the State Government for suitable action." (Anjul Tomar, Jaipur May-2, 2005).
As Governor, she had instructed all the District Collectors of Rajasthan to inform her regularly about the progress in resolving the problems of war widows. Under her directions, a State Level Committee was constituted with the Director, Sainik Kalyan Board, Rajasthan as its Chairman to address the issues affecting the war widows on a priority. The District Collectors were also instructed to organize camps at Sub-Divisional level for hearing the war widows and to solve their grievances expeditiously.
She ensured that the newly constructed 'War Widows Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre' at Jaipur was allocated Rs. 2 crore from the Amalgamated Fund of the Governor to facilitate its smooth functioning. The District Sainik Kalyan Officers were invited to Raj Bhavan, Jaipur and were advised to make wide publicity about the Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre so that no war widow was denied the facility for want of information.
Once there was a news item in Dainik Bhaskar, Jaipur Edition of 9th March 2005 that the Headquarters of Western Army Command would be temporarily shifted to the War Widows Hostel & Rehabilitation Centre. She took up the matter with the Chief Minister of Rajasthan immediately. The then Chief Minister Smt. Vasundhara Raje promptly responded through her letter, that the headquarters of Western Army Command would be relocated elsewhere and that the War Widows Hostel & Rehabilitation Centre would not be utilized as Headquarters of Western Command or for any other purpose.
If as Governor she had pursued the matters of war widows with such passion and concern, and if she had objected to even the temporary shifting of the Western Command Headquarters to the War Widows Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre in Jaipur, would she ever think of dislocating or come in the way of creating accommodation for war widows or occupy a property allegedly meant for any such purpose as her post retirement home? The accommodation proposed to be allocated to her by the Ministry of Defence was never indicated as one earmarked for war widows. It was to be allotted to her for use as her post retirement residence only during her lifetime with no rights of ownership, transfer lease, etc. However, considering the fact that the issue has got linked with the issue of war widows accommodation by some people, the President has chosen to forego the aforesaid allotment of accommodation proposed to be made to her as her post retirement home in Pune.
Hope this will put an end to all misgivings in this regard.