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Uttarakhand: War widow gets pension, after 72 years | Dehradun News – Times of India

PITHORAGARH: In the summer of 1952, when Paruli Devi was 12, her husband, a soldier in the Indian Army, killed himself. She never knew why.
They had been married for just two months. Years went by. But a chance conversation about a woman in her village, a soldier’s widow like herself, finally getting pension sparked hope. And after a seven-year battle, Paruli, now 82, has been declared eligible as well.
“It is not just about money. It is about recognition of my loss,” said Paruli Devi.
Her husband, Gagan Singh, had joined the Army in 1946 as a soldier with the Kumaon Regiment. When he died, she was too young to know or understand what had disturbed her 20-year-old husband.
“She made her way back from Lohakot village, where she had been setting up home with her husband, to Linthura village, where her brothers lived,” her nephew Kavendra Lunthi said. She never thought of bringing up her husband’s military service for compensation.
“In Pithoragarh, where a lot of people enter military service, many don’t know their way around the pension system, especially widows of soldiers.
So, after my retirement, I decided to help them,” said retired assistant treasury officer Dilip Singh Bhandari. One such woman he helped lived at Linthura. Paruli heard of her. This was in 2014. “She approached me with a question, ‘Am I eligible?’ I had to think about it.”
It was a difficult case to begin with. It was very old. Her husband had not died fighting or at a posting.
According to rules by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare, pension for death is given out when someone dies in service, or because of causes attributable to military service, or in war or counter-insurgency operations. And family pension is given in case of “natural death of the individual” at 30% of the last drawn pay. Gagan had not died of natural causes.
“But in July 1977, a woman had in the Allahabad high court challenged the rule that only war widows were eligible for pension from the Army. In 1985, the judge had ruled in her favour,” said Bhandari. He remembered the case and cited it to back Paruli’s claim.
“I took up her case with the Controller General of Defence Accounts, Allahabad, and the Kumaon Regiment Centre at Ranikhet. After seven years of correspondences and doing the rounds, the Kumaon Regiment Centre finally accepted Paruli Devi’s claim. “Her pension of Rs 11,700 starts now and she will get Rs 20 lakh as arrears accumulated since July, 1977,” Bhandari said.
Paruli, after 70 years, has been recognised as a soldier’s widow: “I lived my whole life without official recognition. I am happy now.”

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