No breadwinner for national hero's family

Govt breaks promise

The family of late Sergeant Dev Raj Singh Thakur, who caught Mahatma Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse on January 30, 1948, at Birla House in Delhi, lives in penury at a town in Himachal Pradesh.

For over a decade, the family has been demanding a government job for at least a kin of gallantry award winner Thakur. The family has no breadwinner.

“The state government has not fulfilled its promise to give a job to a family member as a special case,” said Sumitra, daughter-in-law of Thakur.

She said she met chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal in 2010, and asked him to give a job to one of her two sons. Dhumal then assured her that her eldest son will be considered for employment as a special case, she said.

“Five months ago, an official of the state secretariat told me that my son cannot be appointed,” said 54-year-old Sumitra, who is a widow.

Of Thakur’s three sons, the eldest one passed away in 2005 while the other two do not live in Himachal Pradesh.

Sumitra said Thakur, who was awarded the Ashok Chakra, died in May 1987 without any recognition.

“In 2008, the government had promised to give a job to a family member and had sought Thakur’s records. Then it forgot its promise,” she said.

Thakur, who had also served in the Indian Air Force, was asked to retire early. He was subsequently admitted to a mental hospital at Amritsar in Punjab.

He stayed there for 14 years. Till the time he died, he got a monthly pension from the Centre.

The Sainik Welfare Board office in Nahan said the country’s first President in 1952 had awarded a prestigious gallantry award to Thakur for nabbing Godse.

“Only the award winner’s widow or dependent children can claim a government job,” said Yograj Chauhan, the board’s deputy director.

Sixty-four years ago, while Gandhi was on his way to attend a prayer meeting at Birla House, he was shot from close range by Godse, a Hindu nationalist.

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