A 93-year-old widow of a World War II Prisoner of War (PoW) who died while being in enemy captivity has approached the Chandigarh-bench of Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) demanding a monthly `500 “Jangi Inam” (war reward) that was stopped four years ago and disbursement of complete pension.
The bench comprising justice Parkash Krishana and administrative member Lt General DS Sidhu (retd) on Thursday issued a notice to ministry of defence, chief of army staff and principal controller of defence accounts for a reply.
A resident of Hamirpur district in Himachal Pradesh, Ronku Devi is the widow of Sepoy Ranja Ram, who died on September 5, 1945, in Singapore, as a PoW. During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Singapore and defeated British forces resulting in capture of about 85,000 British, Indian and Australian troops as PoWs in 1942.
It was one of the largest surrender of the British-led military personnel in the history. The British forces took back Singapore towards the end of the WW II after the Japanese surrendered on September 12, 1945, but by that time Ranja Ram had died.
The widow was granted family pension at the rate of `8 per month from March 1, 1946, onwards which was enhanced to `16 per month later. Ranja Ram was also awarded Jangi Inam (a pre-independence gallantry award) posthumously that was passed over to his wife. It was `3 per month at the time.
Later, the central government accepted the recommendations of the sixth Central Pay Commission for additional pension of 20% for aged pensioners and family pensioners of 80 years and above that was to be effective from January 1, 2006.
Ronku was entitled to get the benefits from January 1, 2006, onwards, but she was given the benefits of additional pension from September 1, 2010.
The All-India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association (AIEWA) took up her case and filed the petition.
“Ronku Devi has been making repeated representations and running from pillar to post for getting her dues but no one came to her help and she is continuously getting less pension apart from the arrears,” submitted Bhim Sen Sehgal, chairman of AIEWA before the AFT.
The widow was never given the enhanced “Jangi Inam” that was raised to `500 per month from March 30, 2011. Worse, it was completely stopped from April 2011, Sehgal added.