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 Widow Mangala
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.