Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: President Pratibha Patil on Sunday called for “special initiatives” for development of skills of widows of soldiers who sacrificed their lives and said their condition should be improved by providing necessary training and proper livelihood to them. She said the benefits of special packages were not reaching these widows.

Addressing a felicitation function attended by ex-servicemen and widows of martyrs at Indrapura village in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan, Ms. Patil said the condition of widows of martyred soldiers often became “very pathetic” as they were mostly illiterate and had little knowledge of the outside world. “They also become dependent on others.”

Ms. Patil, who felicitated about 40 widows on the occasion, said the Government departments releasing special packages should pay full attention to the welfare of such widows, look into their problems and try to ensure that they get their full dues. The children of martyrs should also get the best of education and scholarships, she added.

Ms. Patil, visiting the village on the second day of her two-day visit to the State, said the steps for the welfare of ex-servicemen were also not enough and added that special attention should be paid to the schemes for their benefit. She called upon the District Sainik Boards to help the authorities in rehabilitation of former soldiers.

The President felt that introduction of self-employment training programmes for the retired personnel would give them better livelihood options. She praised the Shekhawati region, comprising Jhunjhunu, Churu and Sikar districts, for contributing a large number of personnel to the Armed Forces. “The nation and the society will always be indebted to the soldiers from Shekhawati.”

Ms. Patil assured the villagers that she would ask the Union Human Resource Ministry to open a central school in Indrapura in the next financial year.

Earlier in the day, the President worshipped at the Shiva temple on the Raj Bhavan premises in Jaipur, where she stayed overnight, and met Jain monk Acharya Mahapragya at Anuvibha Kendra to seek his blessings. Ms. Patil unveiled a statue of B.R. Ambedkar at the Jhalana institutional area here before leaving for Delhi .