Widow of 2nd world war hero to get George Cross Medal


    By:Mohan Lal Verma

    Brigadier Brian McCall, Defence Advisor at the British High Commission New Delhi would present George Cross medal to Brahmi Devi, widow of Indian Second World War soldier Naik Kirpa Ram, in a small public ceremony.

    The ceremony would be held on Monday 11 May, 2015 at village Bhapral, district Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh. The George Cross, highest British military honor for gallantry in peacetime, was awarded posthumously to the widow of Naik Kirpa Ram in 1946.

    However the medal was stolen from her almost 13 years ago before re-surfacing it at an auction. The British government subsequently supported efforts to have the medal returned to her. UK barrister Ian Mayes, who fought Brahmi Devi’s case ‘pro bono’ (without fee) will speak at the ceremony, at the conclusion of which Brigadier McCall will hand over the medal to Brahmi Devi. British Deputy High Commissioner Chandigarh Mr. David Lelliott, Lok Sabha MP Mr. Anurag Thakur, village Sarpanch Ms. Anita Thakur and the residents of the local area will also attend the ceremony.

    Naik Kirpa Ram was posthumously awarded the George Cross medal in 1946. Born in 1916 Kirpa Ram volunteered to join the Indian Army and during the World War II, he became a member of the 8th Battalion, 13th Frontier Force Rifles. He was deployed for the Burma campaign and on his return to India, during a field firing exercise; a rifle grenade misfired and fell only a few yards away from his unit. The 28 year old Kirpa Ram rushed forward shouting at his colleagues to take cover and attempted to throw it to a secure distance but it exploded in his hand leading to his death. However his self-sacrifice saved lives of his unit members. The posthumous award of the George Cross was then announced on 15 March 1946.

    The medal had apparently stolen from the soldier’s Bhapral village residence in 2002 and Naik Kirpa Ram’s widow, Brahmi Devi, who is now in her 80s, lodged an FIR in the area police station. Although investigations were made at the time, no trace was found until the medal resurfaced for auction in London in late 2009.

    The medal was due to go under the hammer on 2nd December 2009, but after the police intervention, steps were taken to suspend the sale. Himachal Pradesh chief secretary P Mitra also wrote a letter to Secretary of foreign affairs demanding to expedite the process of bring back the medal.

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