The chain of command in the army finally woke to up the plight of the widow of a World War 2 veteran. Denied pension and told to ‘Rangoon’ to get the records of her husband’s service before she could be paid pension after his death, the army has released Rs 5.44 lakh arrears to Sangrur resident 99-year-old Gurdial Kaur. In a March 20 report, ‘Army tells war widow to get husband’s record from ‘Rangoon’, HT had highlighted that Artillery Records department of the army had told her to go to Myanmar (Burma) for her husband’s record.
Gurdial, the widow of Naik Harnam Singh of the Burmese (earlier Burma) Army, was entitled to family pension on the death of her husband in 2012, but had not been paid a penny since. The last pension her husband has been paid was Rs 8,400 a month. She also petitioned the Punjab and Haryana high court.
In a July 8 statement, the army said, “On March 20 2016, the Hindustan Times published an article “Army tells war widow to get husband’s record from ‘Rangoon’. The article highlighted the hardships faced by Gurdial Kuar, 99, wife of late Naik Harnam Singh of the Myanmar Army (erstwhile Burma Army) in finalisation of her pension claim.”
“In spite of the individual not being from the Indian Army, efforts were made for expeditious settlement of the case.... Rs 5.44 lakh has been released as arrears for widow of an Indian, who was a soldier of the Burmese Army,” the statement added.
After the British annexed Myanmar to the Indian province during their rule, a uniform system of administration throughout the colonial government was established. The system remained even after Myanmar’s separation from British India in 1937; whereby, many Indian nationals continued serving in Myanmar, as in the case of Harnam. He even served with the Burmese Army during World War II. As per the Myanmar government, in the event of death of the military personal concerned after retirement, the family pension was restricted to the period remaining up to 10 years from the date of retirement or up to the date on which the concerned personnel would have attained the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. In 2009, the Indian government brought out a policy for paying pension to such employees. Harnam gained from the policy and continued to get pension till his death in 2012.