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82 Year-old Assam Riffle's Gorkha veteran Ganga Bahadur Thapa weary of long Battle for Pension

Kallol Bhattacherjee
Tezu :
For this group of elderly Gurkhas who fought in the 1962 war, old age has become a formidable enemy. One of the soldier-veterans is 82-year-old Ganga Bahadur Thapa, bedridden for a year now in Lohitpur village of Arunachal Pradesh. Apart from physical paralysis, he faces a different kind of suffering: his pension is literally too far away to collect. He and others can get their pension only if they travel to Pokhara City  in Nepal, which is over 1,600 km by road. Most Gurkha soldiers living in Lohitpur are among the 1.26 lakh Gurkha ex-servicemen in India entitled to pension. But they cannot receive the money and health benefits here. “The rules say that we can receive pension only in our place of origin,” said Bhim Bahadur Pun, a veteran. 

Having retired decades ago, the soldiers live on the farm, and want their pension transferred to Tezu, near the China border, which has banking facilities. The difficulties facing the veterans stand out. A promise was made by President Pranab Mukherjee to the Gurkhas in Pokhara. “The ex-servicemen are the foundational pillars of the friendship between Nepal and India. The Indian Government and Indian Army are proud of the Gurkha soldiers and ex-servicemen. I, on behalf of the Government of India assure you that the Government of India will never step back in its efforts for the welfare of its ex-servicemen. Today 32,000 Gurkha soldiers are serving in the Indian Army,” the President said to the Gurkha soldiers on November 4, 2016, during a visit. 

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