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97-Year old WW2 veteran Balwant Singh wins decade long battle for pension

At 97-year old, Sepoy Balwant Singh, a World War 2 veteran from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan on Tuesday won a decade-long personal battle for a claim to a bigger pension that was previously denied to soldiers injured before independence in 1947.

A military tribunal allowed him the government’s war disability pension for the last 50 years as he had lost his left leg in a landmine blast fighting for the Allied Forces as part of the Indian contingent in Italy on December 15th, 1994.

According to a Times of India report, Singh enlisted in the 3-1 Punjab Regiment in 1943 and was transferred to the Rajputana Rifles. 

Following his return from World War Two, he applied for a pension that the government introduced in 1972, guaranteeing “100 of the last salary withdrawn” to Indian soldiers discharged from service because of wounds in various wars before Independence. However, soldiers who lost their limbs or were maimed for life in the two worlds in the two world wars were excluded from this retirement scheme.

The case was pending before the Jaipur unit of the Armed Forces Tribunal since 2010 and was hence taken over by the New Delhi unit of the Armed Force Tribunal which ruled in favour of non-agrarian soldiers on Tuesday. Singh will be provided with100% pension from 2008 along with arrears due from the year 2010, the year he filed the case, as said by an administrative member from Chennai. His family said that “Balwant Singh has 100% disability as he lost his left leg.

We are happy that he got at least some of the dues denied to him.” His son Subhash Singh acknowledged the tribunal’s decision.”We lived in a village and knew nothing of the pension for the battle wounded. We came to know about it only after Kargil War,” he was quoted as saying by the report. He said that with the remuneration, the family can now have better living conditions.

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