80-year-old widow of army havildar from Ropar gets pension 14 years after husband’s death


Gaurav Kanthwal

Mohali, February 18

The 80-year-old widow of an army havildar got her family pension last week for the first time, around 14 years after the death of her husband.

In the twilight years of her life, Ranjit Kaur, a Phase-2 resident, who is bed-ridden, will get around Rs 18 lakh as arrears with effect from 2007, regular pension of Rs 16,000 per month, medical, CSD and other facilities the family of an ex-servicemen is entitled to.

Kaur was married to Prem Singh Puri, a resident of Panjkoha village in Morinda of Ropar district, and employed as a havildar in the Corps of Signals. The couple had a daughter, Surinder Kaur. The couple’s relationship soured after a few years following which Kaur and her daughter came to her father’s house in Mohali in 1973. Kaur’s parents died in 2006, leaving behind a one-room set where the mother-daughter lived. They had no contact with Puri who sold his property and was incommunicado. Puri died a death of obscurity in 2006 with little contact in his village.

Kaur now is bedridden with a 51-year-old daughter who is dependent on her.

“Ranjit Kaur is bedridden, with very little senses. During documentation, the bankers refused to identify her due to her frail condition. It was a long struggle. There was so much bitterness between the couple that Kaur never tried to get in touch with her husband. She did not even know that he had died 14 years ago. It was her daughter, who is unmarried and dependent on her, who came to us,” Lt Col SS Sohi (retd) and his team who run the NGO, Ex-servicemen Grievances Cell, and did the legwork since August 2021 to get her due, said.

When her case was put forward to the Army authorities in 2021, they checked the records and found that no one had claimed the family pension for Puri. The biggest hurdle in getting the family pension was that the applicants did not even have the service number of the armyman and no one in village had any clue about him. “We kept searching for his army trunk in the village, which has the service number written on it. Had we got hold of that, at least the process would have begun. But we did not get it. Then, we met an acquaintance of Puri’s who had a packet of documents, including his death certificate, after which the process started,” said the 78-year-old veteran.

The volunteer said the pension would benefit Kaur’s unmarried daughter and her caretaker more. “Our race was against time as once the immediate family member dies the dependent is not eligible for family pension,” said the NGO worker, who also celebrated the 22nd anniversary of the NGO that works from under a tree outside Sainik Sadan Building in Phase 10, Mohali.