| Raj Kaur cries during the news conference in Chandigarh. (PTI)
Chandigarh, Dec. 26: Raj Kaur, the widow of a martyr, has accused state Sainik Welfare Board director Brigadier (retd) Joginder Singh Jaswal of hounding her relentlessly for sex over the past three years.
“My husband Gurmail Singh, a havildar, gave his life for the country during Operation Rhino in Assam in 1997. He was awarded the Sena Medal for his bravery. I have two children who depend on me. I can either succumb to Jaswal’s advances or commit suicide. I have no other option,” wept Raj, who works as a clerk in the welfare board office.
Jaswal, who was handpicked by chief minister Amarinder Singh to be the board director in 2003, said when contacted that he “would not like to comment on the matter. My office staff is there to comment on my conduct”.
Sobbing uncontrollably at the Chandigarh Press Club in the presence of All-India Anti-Terrorist Front chairman M.S. Bitta, Raj said the trouble started soon after Jaswal’s appointment.
“Since then he has been asking me to go out with him, sit on his lap. He even once gave me an adult magazine, stating it was a gift from him,” she said, her voice choking.
Raj complained to the principal secretary, department of defence services welfare, in October and to the National Commission for Women, with copies to the army chief, Gen. J.J. Singh, and the Western Command GOC-in-C, Lt Gen Daljeet Singh. But she received no response.
Women’s commission chairperson Girija Vyas, when contacted on her cellphone, said: “I am not in Delhi. I cannot speak to you on the matter.”
Geetika Kalha, principal secretary, department of defence services welfare, was not available for comment.
The widow alleged that when Jaswal’s direct advances didn’t work, he asked his personal assistant, Surinder Kaur, to get her to accede to his “demands”.
“His only aim is to somehow compel me to develop a physical relationship with him. He has made adverse remarks in my ACR (annual confidential report) for two consecutive years and when I asked him the reasons, he said he had the power to rewrite them if I followed his instructions,” she said.
Inability to get justice had depressed her and she had to be hospitalised, Raj said. “While I was in hospital Jaswal travelled to my house in Kurali (15 km from Chandigarh) and told my sister-in-law that she too was as smart as me.”
To escape the harassment, the widow took a transfer to Ropar, 25 km from here. “But Jaswal continues to keep on travelling to Ropar to harass me. I do not know what to do as no one in authority understands my plight.”
Demanding a CBI probe, Bitta said: “We made Raj talk to him (Jaswal) on the phone once and it proved that her charges were correct. We demand a CBI probe to ascertain how many armed forces widows have suffered sexual harassment at the hands of those whose job is to ensure that they are provided a decent living.”
Accompanied by Bitta, Raj met the Chandigarh SSP, Gaurav Yadav, later in the day to register a formal complaint.
The Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal has demanded a probe into the allegations.