June 26, 2021 8:56:28 am
Marrying a man who is not the brother of her first husband, an Army officer who died fighting militants and was feted with the nation’s second highest peacetime gallantry award, Kirti Chakra, posthumously, has led to Punjab government denying her a monthly payout granted to the next of kin of such awardees.
Major Raman Dada of 11th Battalion of The Sikh Regiment was killed in May 1999 while fighting militants in Asaam’s Somitpur district. Major Raman killed three militants, one of them in hand to hand combat, while his troops killed seven others in the encounter. He succumbed to the injuries sustained in the encounter and was awarded the Kirti Chakra posthumously on August 15, 1999.
His widow, Anjini Dada, had initially received the annuity of the Punjab government, which is now Rs 13,860 per month, till she remarried in 2005. The annuity was stopped by the state government as according to the rules a widow who remarries a person other than the brother of the deceased is not eligible for such benefits. Now, in 2021, Anjini has once again been intimated by the District Sainik Welfare Officer, Jalandhar, that a case to re-start her annuity on compassionate grounds was taken up but has been turned down by the Finance Department.
Anjini got divorced in 2011 and has a son from her first marriage and a daughter from the second who she looks after despite remaining in ill health. Due to her present financial circumstances, she and the coursemates of her husband have been trying hard to ensure that her annuity gets re-started. They say there are high court as well as Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) judgments that say a widow’s rights do not get waived due to her remarriage.
Speaking to The Indian Express on phone from Dehradun where she now resides, Anjini said that she even tried to meet Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to present her case but was unable to do so. “I came to meet him in 2018.
But unfortunately at the last minute something urgent came up on his schedule and I could not meet him. The regimental officers and coursemates of Major Raman have been trying hard to help me but to no avail. My request to Capt Amarinder Singh is to take a compassionate view which benefits me and similarly placed women who lose their husbands in military operations,” she said.
According to Major RS Virk (retd), a coursemate of Major Raman, the rules of Punjab government must be amended so that women like Anjini Dada are not denied their dues. “It is not a major amount but it will go a long way to help the lady. When the pensionary benefits of the widows are not stopped due to their re-marriage, why should the gallantry award annuity be? This is very hurtful for us as our brother officer has given his life for the nation and this is how his wife is being treated,” said Major Virk.
Defence Welfare Department officials say that the case for re-starting the annuity of Anjini Dada 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 out of it,” said an official.
In a similar case pertaining to a jawan’s widow, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had observed in its judgment 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 (to), 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”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.