Widow of CRPF jawan gets ex gratia after 18 yrs

Chief Election Commissioner writes to kin, apologises for delay

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 19

The widow of a CRPF jawan, who died fighting terrorists during the 2002 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly polls, has received ex gratia from the Election Commission (EC) after 18 years following the intervention of Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.

Expressing anguish over the delay, Arora wrote to Pramila Devi, apologising on behalf of the administrative machinery. The EC decided to provide her Rs 20 lakh ex gratia as an exception, which is the present admissible amount. In 2002, the admissible amount for ex gratia was Rs 5 lakh. The sum has been transferred to her bank account, officials in the poll panel said.

Ramesh Kumar of 45 Battalion of the CRPF was on election duty in the 2002 J&K Assembly polls. On October 8 that year, he died fighting terrorists at a polling booth in the Doda Town Hall area. His widow Pramila, who lives in Bhiwani in Haryana, first wrote to the EC in December 2019, requesting early payment of the ex gratia. Her request was forwarded to the chief electoral officer (CEO) of Jammu and Kashmir.

“There was an undue delay in processing in the CEO’s office,” said a letter sent out by the commission to all state CEOs, sensitising them to the need for fast-tracking such cases.

On August 10 this year, Pramila had emailed Arora, requesting his intervention into the matter. In his reply, Arora wrote, “I personally apologise on behalf of the entire administrative machinery and assure you that your late husband’s supreme sacrifice will always be remembered.”

Taking a stern view of the “institutional failure” and lack of sensitivity on part of administrative machinery, the EC has also ordered a stock-taking exercise of pending claims of ex-gratia payment in respect of polling officials and security personnel.

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