Due to the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the family pension of a 94-year-old widow of an Indian Army officer, who died 30 years ago, has been restored, reports India Today.
Modi’s intervention made the Defence ministry take charge of the issue, and Hebe Benjamin is expected to be paid a pension after 29 years. The pension amount is Rs 75 lakh, and if the interests and arrears of the intervening pay commissions is paid, the total will cross Rs 1 crore.
Manpreet Kant, a family friend who wrote many letters to the MoD, says that, “She had lost all hope. As a last resort, Hebe Benjamin wrote to the PM requesting him to restore the pension that was due to her. Col Benjamin had served the Army with pride. After retirement, they relocated to Israel. Once he passed away, the family pension was no longer being deposited in her account. And Hebe Benjamin had no other sources of income.”
Kant says that the family repeatedly wrote to the deputy adjutant in the Adjutant General's branch. They received a letter in 1998 from the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) (PCDA) Allahabad that said that pension could be released only after the President decided on the matter. There was total silence after that.
Hebe and her daughter fought an uphill battle, even approaching the Indian ambassador in Israel. As a last resort, Benjamin wrote to PM Modi, Nirmala Sitharaman and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen Bipin Rawat. Requesting their intervention, she pleaded that her family pension be restored.
As a result, the PMO sought the facts of the case and instructed the Defence Minister to order an immediate grievance redress. The pension, with arrears, is expected to reach Benjamin’s account by 31 January.