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WW-II veteran dies fighting for dues
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
For 45 long years, a bullet embedded in his body was a constant reminder of battle - not only against the Japanese whom he had fought during World War II, but also the against the bureaucratic establishment here which had denied him disability pension for several decades.

When 90-year-old Santokh Singh died in his native village Sehjo Majra near Samrala a few days ago, he had received just a fraction of what was due to him. About a month before he expired, he had received his pension arrears only from 1992-2001, whereas his pension had been discontinued in 1959. He was still pursuing the matter and was hoping to get what had been denied to him.

Following a case taken up by the Army with the Ministry of Defence, his disability pension was restored in 2001. The Army also took up a case for release of his pension arrears from 1959, to which he was rightfully entitled, but the ministry and the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) sanctioned arrears for only nine years.

Sepoy Santokh Singh of the Punjab Regiment had served in the Burma theatre where he had received a gun shot injury while fighting the Japanese. The bullet remained embedded in his upper back till the day of his death. His bhog was held today, where his widow was honoured by the Army.

Santokh had served in the Army from 1941 to 1951, when he was discharged on medical grounds. The bullet which wounded him about 65 years ago continued to remain embedded in his body, as was evident from recent X-ray reports forwarded to the CDA. The question here arose whether the disability factor could be reduced by the CDA if the bullet continued to remain embedded in the body and no subsequent medical examination was conducted.

His disability pension had been abruptly stopped by the CDA. He had subsequently written numerous letters to the CDA as well as the Punjab Regimental Centre, Ramgarh, which went unanswered until 1995, when he was told that his pension was stopped because his disability was assessed as less than 20 per cent, for which was not entitled for disability pension.



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