Tara Devi, wife of Rama Chander, washerman (a civilian) who was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) for bravery during the 1947-48 Indo-Pak war, met army chief General Bikram Singh at the convention of War Decorated India in the hope of help.
Son Mukesh, who accompanied his mother, pleaded, "We are getting just a paltry sum of Rs. 5,000 per month as pension. We are hoping for a government job for any of the three brothers. One of my brothers is working as a waiter. I am working as a small-time contractor and not able to earn substantially."
Tara Devi showed the media all the documents that testified her husband's bravery. Thus far, only two civilians have been awarded the Maha Vir Chakra. Both of them were decorated for having saved army officers during the 1947-48 Indo-Pak war.
Rama Chander was part of a convoy proceeding to Jammu under the command of Lieutenant FDW Fallon on December 18, 1947. The convoy was ambushed on a bridge. When Lieutenant Fallon was wounded, Rama Chander took the officer's rifle and helped in holding off the enemy. He provided covering fire to the Lieutenant's vehicle over the bridge and was responsible for inflicting five to six casualties on the enemy. When Fallon got badly injured, Chander carried him on his shoulders to the nearest post eight miles away.
Another civilian hero was Mohammad Ismail, whose grandson Ghulam Haidar, was present during the convention on Saturday. Railways minister Pawan Kumar Bansal honoured him with a cash prize of Rs. 10,000.
On June 23, 1948, a reconnaissance patrol was ambushed in the Zojila pass area in Jammu and Kashmir, and a man was severely wounded. He rolled down the side of the hill, and was unable to get back to the picquet. All attempts by the section to rescue the wounded man failed due to as enemy fire.
Ismail, who was a porter, displayed outstanding courage and skill in negotiating the almost impassable snow-covered slopes swept by machine gun fire and brought back the wounded soldier. Again on September 14, 1948, at Zojila pass, Ismail volunteered to accompany the 3 Jat as a guide. During the fight, he fell into enemy hands and was taken prisoner.