Tufan Neupane in Himal Khabarpatrika, 22-28 February
In 1958, Indra Bahadur Thapa from Palpa joined the Indian army like hundreds of other Nepalis. In the army’s records, instead of his wife’s given name Dil Maya, he put down her nickname Krishna Maya Thapa. In those days, documents proving identity or educational background were not considered as important when one was physically capable.
Back in Nepal, Indra Bahadur’s wife got her citizenship under her given name Dil Maya. The discrepancy in her names has been the cause of her woes for 25 years. After the death of her husband in 1998, she has not been able to collect pension of IRS 4500 due to the difference in name in the citizenship versus army records.
Tirtha Shrestha from the same district had changed his last name to Rana to join the Indian army. He registered his wife Jham Kala Shrestha’s name as Chandra Kumari Rana.
After Shrestha passed away in 2003, the pension camp in Pokhara asked Jham Kala to ‘correct’ her name and surname. “My mother collected the pension when my father was sick, but she was refused the money after his death as the name in citizenship and the records don’t match,” says her son Bishnu Shrestha. “We don’t know where to go or whom to talk to,” he adds.
According to Kul Bahadur KC, secretary general of a committee for the welfare of Ex-Indian Army Servicemen, there are around 13,000 people who have not been able to collect the pension due to difference in name in the records and ID.
Under the Indian government’s regulations, the pension of an ex-serviceman transfers to his widow upon his death. But many families are facing problems as the name in the army’s official records and their citizenship do not match.
In a meeting between the foreign ministers if India and Nepal on 25-26 July 2014, a consensus was reached to aid the collection of pensions for the pensioners whose names, date of birth and address were different on the record.
or this the district administration office will have to provide the proof along with the photo. But the Government of Nepal is yet to issue any instructions regarding the matter. Says KC, “The problem would be solved if the government issues a circular for the matter but that hasn’t been done yet.”