If Sarvottam Narayan Wagle faced murderous dacoits, robbers and other criminals, his daughters Sheela Jaywant and Geeta Kapadia emerged victorious over foes equally terrifying: government apathy.
Sarvottam Wagle and his widow Mangala
Three months after this paper reported on how the police sub-inspector’s widow had stopped receiving the allowance she was entitled to from the government, she finally got the pension along with arrears last month.
PSI Wagle had been awarded the King’s Police Medal for Gallantry in 1948, for cracking down on the violent ‘Patri sarkar’ (Parallel government) agitation in Satara before Independence.
Wagle had gunned down dreaded dacoit Sakharam Barbatte, in what can be termed as Maharashtra’s first ever encounter (though the state was born in 1960). For this, he received the award and an allowance from the British government.
Wagle’s wife, Mangala, continued to receive the amount even after his death in 1983, until the government suddenly stopped it in 2004. Since Mangala had fallen ill, she had to give up on the allowance and her file was lost to the blackhole that is government records.
In 2013, when her daughter, Sheela, happened to rummage through her cupboards, she found her mother’s passbook with the entries made only up to 2004. Sheela decided to claim what her mother was entitled to and wrote to the Pension department in the Goa government, as they had moved there in 1988.
It took two years and numerous visits from Sheela and her sister Geeta in Mumbai (see box for first person account) to offices of the Goa government and Mumbai Police to finally restore the pension with arrears over Rs 1.3 lakh. Speaking to mid-day from Panjim, Mangala said, “I am happy that I have received my rightful share.
The amount is secondary; this has restored my family pride. I am thankful to your paper and my daughters, who ran around to ensure that the pension is restored. I have learnt that the government may delay it, but if you chase and follow-up with the babus continuously, nobody can take away your right.”
Mangala says she will use the fund for her charity work. Sheela added, “It is really sad that the Pension department still uses manual filing system. This is not only time consuming but is also against the government’s motto of paperless work. The Pension departments in both Mumbai and Goa need to start digitising their records to make life easier for themselves and the pensioners.
For my father
PSI Wagle’s daughter, Sheela Jaywant, narrates the story of how she and her sister, Geeta, fought for their father’s allowance.
I found my mother’s tattered passbook in 2013. The entries, made till early 2004, showed she drew R60 every month from the government for the King’s Police Medal for Gallantry. This was her allowance and not post-retirement pension. I applied, on her behalf, to the Pension section, Accounts department, Ministry of Finance, Goa government, with a copy to the Treasury section.
A month later, I got a letter from the Deputy Director of Accounts saying I should write to the Treasury section. I did. The seasons changed, but not the status quo. Most staffers were helpful and polite. I kept shuttling between the Pension and Treasury sections for months.
I was informed no records existed for the pensioner and told they stored records for ten years. When I replied the period was yet to pass, people politely told me they’d been around for less than nine and a half years and, hence, didn’t know where the records were. Would they give it to me in writing that the records had been destroyed or lost? No, because the letter from the deputy director wasn’t marked to them.
I saw pensioners with drooping shoulders, fingers clasped in front of chests like they were in a sanctum sanctorum. Some clerks were helpful. Others yawned and stretched through the day. Around Christmas 2013, the Treasury confessed to its Director that “no case papers of (the) pensioner (were) traceable in (their) record.”
The same letter said if the pension “remain(ed) undrawn for three years or more, neither (could) monthly pension amount be resumed, nor arrears be paid without the authority of...” the sanctioning authority, Mumbai Police. For the Accounts Directorate, Goa, to send my mother’s file to the Director-General, Mumbai Police, I submitted a medical certificate explaining why she hadn’t collected her pension all that time.
Having left Goan shores, I started doing rounds of Pratishtha Bhavan and police headquarters in Mumbai. The Goa guys had asked their Mumbai counterparts to say aye to the arrears. So I gave fresh applications, this time directly to the DIG and AG’s offices. No response.
Then mid-day reported our travails. For the next few weeks, I got calls from various people from Mumbai Police. My father apparently didn’t exist in their records. One gentleman said: “Satara wasn’t in Mumbai.” A senior retired police officer said: “This is a procedural thing; it’ll be done in a couple of days.” My sister, Geeta, took over and regularly visited offices.
Just before Christmas 2014, I relayed between the DIG’s office and the AG’s office and got it in writing that the Accounts Directorate, Goa government should give my mother arrears and restored pension, that the King’s Medal was now the President’s Police Medal, that the interim Pay Commissions’ enhancements were to be considered. Rs 60 had become Rs 2,000.
In Goa, allowances are sent by ECS (electronic clearing system) to banks on the 15th and 25th of the month. No such thing happened. The person in charge assured me the money would be in mother’s account by the 24th. The arrears finally came in on Jan 31. But, the pension, will have to be manually collected.
I will have to carry a signed pension bill, my mother’s PPO book, a letter from her authorising me to collect her dues, and a certificate from her doctor to say she can’t do so on her own. Every time I see government awards ceremonies on TV, I itch to tell my tale. And so I did.
The pension break-up
The allowance was Rs 60 till July 1997, but the authorities didn’t increase it as per the pay commission’s orders. From August 1, 1997 to December 5, 1999, it went up to Rs 120. From December 6, 1999, to September 4, 2008, it was further hiked to Rs 450.
It became Rs 900 till May 2013 and finally is now R2,000. Unless a new pay commission comes up, this is what Mangala Wagle is entitled to per month. There is no dearness relief admissible on this amount.