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Friday, July 30, 2021

Kirti Chakra winner’s widow denied annuity after second marriage; Amarinder assures policy review

The Indian Express news report published on June 26 highlighted the case of Anjini Dada, wife of Major Raman Dada of 11 Sikh, who died in Assam in 1999 while fighting militants.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
Updated: June 27, 2021 7:17:34 am
Kirti Chakra winner’s widow denied annuity after second marriage; Amarinder assures policy reviewThe CM added his government was committed to ensuring regular supply of power at subsidised rates to the state’s agricultural, domestic and industrial consumers. (File)

A Kirti Chakra awardee’s widow was denied a monthly payout by the Punjab government after she got married for the second time—an issue that has now been taken up by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who sought a detailed report and assured a change to the policy if needed.

The action by the Chief Minister came a day after the Indian Express reported on the predicament of Anjini Dada, the widow of Major Raman Dada—who posthumously received the nation’s second highest peacetime gallantry award.

Major Dada of 11th Battalion of the Sikh Regiment was killed in May 1999 while fighting militants in Assam’s Sonitpur district. He killed three militants, one in hand-to-hand combat. He succumbed to his injuries and was awarded the Kirti Chakra on August 15, 1999.

An annuity—Rs 13,860 per month at present—is paid to the next of kin of deceased gallantry award winners. Anjini received the annuity from the Punjab government till she remarried in 2005. Following this, the payment was stopped in accordance with the state rules wherein a widow who remarries a person other than the brother of the deceased is not eligible for such benefits.

Due to her financial circumstances after her divorce in 2011, Anjini—who has a son from her first marriage and a daughter from the second—approached the District Sainik Welfare Officer, Jalandhar, seeking resumption of her annuity.

Speaking to The Indian Express over the phone from Dehradun, where she now resides, Anjini said she even tried to meet the Chief Minister in 2018 but couldn’t because of a change in his schedule.

This year, she was intimated by the Jalandhar Sainik Welfare Officer that a case to re-start her annuity on compassionate grounds was taken up but turned down by the Finance Department. Defence Welfare Department officials said Anjini’s case was taken up at the highest level. “Even the Secretary, Defence Services Welfare took up the matter at his level but unfortunately nothing has come of it,” said an official.

Major RS Virk (retd), a coursemate of late Major Raman Dada, says, “When the pensionary benefits of widows are not stopped due to their re-marriage why should the gallantry award annuity be?”

In a similar case pertaining to a jawan’s widow, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had observed in its judgement in 2013, “Let the Government of Punjab not forget the existence of Hindu Widows’ Re-marriage Act 1856 which protected a widow who would not by reason of her re-marriage forfeit her property or any other right to property which she would otherwise be entitled, and every widow who has re-married shall have the same rights of inheritance as she would have had, had such marriage been her first marriage. Right to money is a right to property constitutionally protected.”

Amarinder’s media advisor Raveen Thukral on Twitter quoted him as saying: “Have taken note of this & sought detailed report in the matter. Will go by Indian Army policy in deciding on the issue of annuity to the Kirti Chakra awardee widow post remarriage, and if need be, will amend Punjab govt rules to align with the same”.

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