An Open letter to Chief of Army Staff

Mandetira N Subramani, M.Com, LLB.,
VeKare Ex-Servicemen Trust (VKET),
No. 645, 1st Floor, N.S. Road,
K.R. Mohalla, Mysore -570024.
Telefax: 0821-2459555
Mobile: 09448471811
General Bikram Singh, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC 
Chief of Army Staff,
South Block, 
Integrated Headquarters of MoD (Army)
New Delhi- 110011.
Dear Sir,
1.       You may recall the two mails dated 02.10.2013 and 15.11.2013 that this Trust has addressed to you in the recent past, with copies to all the concerned authorities & a few retired Generals as well,  projecting the issue of denial of family pension / correct family pension, pertaining to Smt Kaveriamma, widow of EME’s JC-19016, N/Sub Ballachanda Ayyappa, (original email appended for academic interest) & Smt RG Santhamma, the 86 year old widowed mother of 2/Lt S Manjunath, VrC (Posthumous) of 21 Rajput Regt respectively. Your rightful intervention in both these instances granted some relief to these two widows with their dues, albeit partially, within a reasonable period of time. Hence, an introduction to our Trust is considered quite unnecessary.  
2.        This particular post projects the case of Smt BT PRATIMA, widow of Army No. 13855130K late Nk/TS MA Monnappa of Madras Regiment.  Smt BT PRATHIMA lost her husband when she was barely 30 years of age, with two children : first, son being 9 years old, & the second, a 7 years old daughter. Based on the records made available to our Trust, the facts of the case are being illustrated below for your immediate intervention.
3.        Nk/TS MA Monnappa, was enrolled in the Indian Army (Madras Regiment) on 27 March 1975 and released on 31 March 1990, on completion of his 15 years of initial term of engagement. On his release from the Army, he was sanctioned with Defence Pension vide PPO No. S/042049/89 (Army) dated 06 September 1989. Nk/TS MA Monnappa remained a bachelor throughout his tenure of 15 years in the Army.
4.       After his discharge from the Indian Army, he was re-employed in State Bank of Mysore as a ‘Security Guard’ during May 1991, and married Smt BT PRATIMA on 31.05.1991. However, due to his illiteracy and ignorance, he never made an attempt to intimate his Army Record Office regarding his marriage with Smt BT PRATIMA after his discharge from the Army during his life time. Obviously no Part-II order was published regarding Smt. BT PRATIMA’s marriage with Nk/TS Monnappa and the subsequent birth of their two children. This is primarily the reason Smt. BT PRATIMA’s name was not notified jointly in her late husband’s Defence Pension Payment Order, as the spouse to receive family pension after his demise, which stands to reason.


5.       Pursuant to Nk/TS Monnappa’s demise on 11th March 2001, Smt BT PRATIMA put up an application to The Record Office, Madras Regiment, for publishing of Part-II order, regarding her marriage and birth of two children out of their marriage, and for sanctioning of family pension through Office of Dept of Sainik Welfare & Resettlement, Mysore. The Part-II order regarding her marriage was published way back in 2007 vide Authority No. RO(NE)Pt II No. 1/0435/0001/2007 wherein her name has been recorded correctly as ‘B.T. PRATHIMA’.  However, for some inexplicable reason, it took the Madras Regt well over three years to publish the Part-II order regarding the birth of their two children i.e., vide Authority No. RO(NE)Pt II No. 1/0278/0014/2010 & RO(NE)Pt II No. 1/0278/0015/2010. A scanned copy of (Part-II order) Dependency Certificate issued to Smt BT PRATIMA to become a member of ECHS is attached as the second attachment for your perusal.
6.    In all the records / correspondences between the Dept of Sainik Welfare, the Record office, PCDA (P), CGDA, Office of CDA, Chennai & other concerned authorities from the beginning till 12.04.2014, the spouse’s name of Nk/TS Monnappa, has invariably been  referred to as  ‘B.T. PRATIMA’. (A few letters with the name as ‘BT Pratima’ are attached as 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th attachments). The dilatory tactics of the Record Office notwithstanding, the Record Office decided to raise two frivolous objections, and returned this widow’s completed family pension claim forms vide letter No. 13855130/FP/12/PG-2 dated 13.04.2014. Incidentally, this official letter blatantly commits the sin of omission by failing to mention the name of the Officer signing this controversial letter contradicting the widow’s maiden name, which indicate the sheer unprofessionalism & casual attitude of the officer, supposedly of the rank of Major, who with impudence signs as Senior Record Officer, signing for and on behalf of Officer In-Charge, Records, The Madras Regiment.  [Scanned copy of the letter without the name of the Major (SRO) is attached as the first attachment].
The first objection raised nearly after a decade regarding the widow’s name is as follows:
(a)       “As per records available in the office your name is recorded as ‘BR PRATHIMA’ in the service documents of your late husband. However, you have mentioned your name in all the family pension claim forms as B T PRATIMA’. Is not acceptable for audit authorities. You are, therefore, advised to forward a dual name certificate issued by VAO stating that both names are one and the same person.”
7.       We are at a loss to understand as to how the authorities in Record Office took the liberty of rechristening the widow’s initials as ‘B.R’. Whether it is to victimize her, or harass her or torture her mentally or to simply deny or delay in sanctioning her family pension is a question that begs an answer. The effective date for her defence family pension would be debated in a public domain in due course, since the Record Office and PCDA (P) has not understood her case in full.
8.       We were also taken aback on observing that an attempt was also made by the Record office to change the spelling of “PRATIMA” to “PRATHIMA” by retaining the initials B.T., by applying whitener in two copies of family pension booklets, however, this cover-up exercise was  aborted half way through without touching the third copy of the booklet. The intension of the Record Office in  applying the whitener on the name PRATIMA to add the letter ‘H’ to make it as  PRATHIMA may be good, but why leave the attempt half way through and send back the booklets causing further confusion? However, the proper noun PRATIMA could be spelt as PRATHIMA too, since it sounds the same as long as the name is  not spelt as  PROTHIMA or PROTIMA which may sound a bit Bengali /Assamese or Odiya.  We wonder what this Senior Record Officer of the Madras Regiment is going to do with all the other documents in their possession, in which the name is mentioned / spelt   as `B T PRATIMA`?  As this gross mistake is committed from the Record Office, the onus of rectifying this error is wholly & fully, by this nameless SRO.
9.       The second illogical observation is as follows:
(b)       “Army No. Rank, Name, Regiment/Corps, PPO No. PDA & Position of witnesses has not been mentioned in page number 06 of family pension booklets. Booklets are returned herewith for your completion and early return.”
10.     We are compelled to request you to question the nameless Major who signed the said letter in the capacity of Senior Record Officer, whether he has read the page 06 in full? There is no mandatory condition laid down in the Family pension Book-lets to furnish the Army No. the Rank, The Name, Regiment/Corps, PPO No. PDA & Position of witnesses.
11.     You are well aware Sir, that our country’s Lower Courts, High Courts, or  the Apex Court  will not insist that any person who signs as witness on any document or in any affidavit, either in a civil or criminal cases, to furnish their complete service particulars, position, or their antecedents or credibility. The persons who have signed as witnesses are more credible than the nameless Major just because they have at least mentioned their name in BOLD CAPITAL LETTER with their full address. The persons who have signed as witnesses in Page No. 6 are not from Armed Forces, they are not pensioners and they are certainly not villagers or illiterates. (Scanned copy of Page No. 6 of Family pension booklet is attached as the third attachment).
12.     The nameless Major could well order a Court of Inquiry, CBI or IB investigation to find out whether the widow is in fact the legally wedded wife of the deceased Nk (TS) M.A. Monnappa or not, and to further satisfy himself whether the persons who signed as witnesses are reputable or not. 
13.     It is not out of context to mention here that, you are well aware as to how the Chief Record Officer of EME records harassed / victimized Smt Kaveriamma, widow of JC-19016 Nb Sub Ballachanda Ayyappa, after we brought his wrongdoings to your knowledge. Anyways, Smt Kaveriamma’s job is half done & her unceasing distressing saga will be narrated to very shortly, so as to ensure that justice is eventually meted out to her, before you demit your office. 
14.     We have been taking up the causes of scores of Ex-servicemen & widows of ex-servicemen, not only of PBORs’ but also of numerous armed forces officers, their widows & their dependent parents who were PBORs’.   It is disturbing / disgusting to note the mindset and callous attitudes of some of the Babus in uniform who are posted in different Record offices of Indian Army.
15.     Many of the Babus in the Indian Army claim that the strength of the Indian army is huge; hence minute attention cannot be given.  But these narrow minded Babus should know that every Regt has its own well-established Record offices from times immemorial. The number of Army Record Office could be well over 50. However, none of the Record Office’s appears to work in tandem. They refuse to integrate with one common family pension claim format, rule and requirement of certain documents. Some of the Babus in uniform working in the Record Office as SROs / CROs appear to be passing their verdict suo motu, presuming as if they are the ultimate judge & jury.  It is high time the Indian Army streamlines the functioning of all its Record Offices & standardizes / simplifies the family pension claim forms.   
16.     Smt BT PRATIMA’s case is yet another case study for the Indian army in `How to goof up simple issues’.  Hence, we are approaching you sir, to kindly use your good office & prevail upon all the Record Offices to instruct their babu’s to mention their name with their mighty ranks & appointment, & to simplify the process of processing the family pension claim and its procedure in the best interest of all the widows of those who served in the Indian Armed Forces, generally from Indian Army, specifically those who come under the jurisdiction of the nameless Major, Senior Record Officer, The Madras Regiment and the CRO of EME Records.
17.   Further Sir, we shall be highly grateful to you Sir, if you could kindly instruct the GOC of K&K Sub Area to depute the Col Admn to our trust to research on the different kinds of problems Ex-Servicemen & their widows suffer silently. Military Veterans of all ranks and widows of veterans visit our Trust’s office and project their problems & interact with us freely, narrating the suffering they have undergone due to the red-tapism, practiced at Army Record Offices. The Babus in uniform meant to look after the welfare of ex-servicemen of yore, either have no passion to take up the cause of ex-servicemen, or perhaps they are too slipshod, & sadly inadequate & casual in their approach.  
18.     We urge you to kindly accord priority in resolving Smt. BT PRATIMA’s issue, whose family pension has been impacted due to the Record offices floundering.  They have failed to take cognizance of their own regimental Part II order which has conclusively proved her initials as ‘B T’ and not as ‘B R’. An error compounded from their end has impacted this widow for years on end. Even if one were to conclude that it is a simple error in the widow’s initials, how can the Record Office take such a lackadaisical approach, especially when the claim is legitimate, genuine in all other parameters, & pertains to a dead ex-servicemen. Does pathos in the Armed Forces surface only if it attracts national attention!  Contemptible indeed. 
19.    Smt. BT PRATIMA, the hapless widow has literally reached the end of her tether. The ignominy that she has endured all these years from these faceless officials is indeed reproachable. I wonder where the humane face of the Indian Army is; as such issues keep recurring with abnormal frequency.  This surely is the stuff of mystery novels!  
Thanking you,
Yours faithfully,
Mandetira N Subramani.


Copy to: 
1. Adjutant General, AG’s Branch, IHQ of MoD (Army) DHQ PO, New Delhi.
2. Director General (Infantry), AG’s Branch, IHQ of MoD (Army) DHQ PO, New Delhi.
3. Additional Directorate General Personnel and Services (ADG PS (PS-5), AG’s Branch, IHQ of MoD (Army) 419, A Wing, Sena Bhawan, DHQ PO, New Delhi.
4. Secretary, Kendriya Sanik Board, West Block IV, Wing 5, RK Puram, New Delhi.
5. GOC, Sub Area K&K, Bangalore.
6. Veteran Cell/ Ceremonial and welfare Directorate, Adjutant General ‘s Branch, Integrated HQ of MoD (Army), Kashmir House, Building No-153, DHQ PO, New Delhi.

6. Commandant, Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington, TN.
7. President, Army Wives Welfare Association, Integrated HQ of MoD (Army), New Delhi.


Dear Sirs / Madam,
– You are kindly requested to intervene to help the widow of an ex-serviceman in question. The spelling of a proper noun ‘Pratima’ can also be spelt as ‘Prathima’. It appears that, the hapless widow is being harassed by the nameless Major for reasons best known to him.
8. CGDA, Office of the CGDA, Ulan Battar Road, Palam, Delhi Cantt.
9. PCDA (Pension), Draupadi Ghat, Allahabad (UP).
                  –      You are kindly requested to impress upon the Army Record Offices not to harass or raise objections just because of a spelling of the proper noun. ‘Pratima’ and ‘Prathima’ are pronounced in the same way and it should not be made an issue as long as it refers to the widow in question.
10. All the Army Record Offices – For your information, please.
11. Director / Joint Directors, Dept of Sainik Welfare & Resettlement, Karnataka.
            Can your department write the name ‘Pratima / Prathima’ in two different types / ways in Kannada language ? Can anybody write the name Pratima / Prathima in Hindi in two different types / ways ? The nameless Major / SRO of the Office of the Records, Madras Regiment appears to be acting more British than the Britishers themselves.  

1 Comment

  1. Nicely drafted letter, albeit too long – wonder if the COAS can spare time to read the entire essay. However, should produce the desired result, as the issue is genuine, neatly articulated & the SRO is nit picking on trivial issue, who should the knuckle rapped.

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