Widow of CRPF jawan martyred during 2002 J&K polls gets ex-gratia payment after 18 years

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The widow of a CRPF jawan, who died fighting terrorists during the 2002 Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls, has received ex-gratia payment from the Election Commission after 18 years. Representational image.

The widow of a CRPF jawan, who died fighting terrorists during the 2002 Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls, has received ex-gratia payment from the Election Commission after 18 years following the intervention of the top brass.

Anguished by the delay, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora wrote a letter to the widow Pramila Devi, personally apologising on behalf of the administrative machinery. The Commission 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 amount has been transferred to her bank account.

Widow writes to CEC

Ramesh Kumar of the 45th battalion was deployed for election duty in the 2002 Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls. On October 8 that year, he died fighting terrorists at a polling booth in Doda Town Hall area. His widow Pramila Devi first wrote to the Commission in December 2019 requesting early payment of ex-gratia permissible. She lives in Bhiwani in Haryana State.

Her request was forwarded to the chief electoral officer of Jammu and Kashmir. “There was undue delay in processing in the office of CEO…,” said a letter sent out by the Commission to all state chief electoral officers sensitising them about fast tracking such matters pending with them.

On August 10 this year, Devi wrote an email to CEC Arora requesting his intervention. In his reply, Arora wrote in Hindi: “I personally apologise on behalf of the entire administrative machinery. And I assure you that your late husband’s supreme sacrifice will always be remembered.” The EC took stern view of the “institutional failure” and lack of sensitivity “bordering on apathy” on part of administrative machinery “which failed to respect the memory of the departed”, said the letter to all CEOs.

The EC ordered a stock-taking exercise of pending claims of ex-gratia payment in respect of polling officials and security personnel. “A digital data base may be created for tracking settlement of such legacy claims and future claims,” it said.

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