The 80-year-old widow Brahmi Devi will receive the stolen George Cross medal at a ceremony in HP on May 11th

Stolen British military honour to be returned to widow of Bihari Indian soldier

India News Bulletin Desk

Thirteen years after it was stolen, Brahmi Devi, the 80-year-old widow of Indian soldier Naik Kirpa Ram who fought in WW II, will receive the George Cross medal back, thanks to a UK barrister's efforts. The medal was first awarded posthumously to Kirpa Ram's widow wife back in 1946 for the soldier's gallantry.

Brahmi Devi, widow of Indian soldier Naik Kirpa Ram who was honoured for his bravery by the British government
Brahmi Devi, widow of Indian soldier Naik Kirpa Ram who was honoured for his bravery by the British government

The British government will present the George Cross medal, the highest British military honour for gallantry in peace time, to Brahmi Devi during a ceremony on Monday, May 11, 2015 at her village Bhapral in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh. The medal award was to honour Kirpa Ram's bravery in the Indian Army and during the World War II.

In 2002, the medal was stolen from the soldier's Bhapral village residence. When it resurfaced in 2009 at an auction in London, the British Government decided to work 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.

The George Cross medal
The George Cross medal

The British Deputy High Commissioner Chandigarh David Lelliott, Lok Sabha MP Anurag Thakur, Village Sarpanch Anita Thakur and the residents of the local area will also attend the ceremony.

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 announced on 15 March 1946.

Although investigations were made at the time, no trace was found until the medal resurfaced for auction in late 2009. The medal was due to go under the hammer on 2 December 2009, but after the police intervention, steps were taken to suspend the sale.

The George Cross

Instituted in 1940 by The Queen’s father King George VI, the George Cross ranks with the Victoria Cross as the nation’s highest award for gallantry. It recognises actions of supreme gallantry in circumstances for which the Victoria Cross was not appropriate.

It may be awarded to civilians, as well as members of the Armed Forces for acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy, including, for example, military explosive ordnance disposal personnel.

It is awarded for "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger," according to the British Government.

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