Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday said that those who were imprisoned under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act during the Emergency will get pensions. Fadnavis said that “pension was an honour more than money” for those who were in jail during that period.
Tuesday marks 44 years of the imposition of the Emergency by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975.
“Many people refused the pension. But some are still poor who lost jobs after being arrested for no fault of theirs,” PTI quoted Fadnavis as saying during the Question Hour in the state Assembly.
Earlier, Minister of State for Relief and Rehabilitation Madan Yerawar had said that 3,267 applications for pensions had been approved so far. He was responding to queries by Nationalist Congress Party member Ajit Pawar.
Yerawar also said that out of all the applications received, 1,179 of them had been approved after scrutinising Rs 100 stamp paper submitted to prove that the applicant had served a prison sentence. He further added that a committee, led by the district collector, has been going through the applications and approving genuine claims.
“A budget of Rs 42 crore was finalised for the pension scheme and out of this, Rs 28 crore to Rs 29 crore has been disbursed,” Yerawar said.
Bharatiya Janata Party member Parag Alavani said that those imprisoned during the Emergency are now senior citizens who find it difficult to frequently visit the collectorate. He demanded a separate cell in the collectorate office to take care of the pension scheme.
Peasants and Workers’ Party leader Subhash Patil said that his father and uncle had served 18 months in prison and that his family had to face a lot of hardships. “Those who served in jail during the Emergency want honour more than money,” he said, according to PTI. “It would be good if the pension amount is increased to Rs 25,000 and a citation is also given,” he said.”
Congress member Basavraj Patil also called for an increase in the pension amount for those who took part in the “Marathwada Mukti Sangram” or liberation of Marathwada. However, Fadnavis said that those taking part in the freedom struggle for Goa, Marathwada, and India are on par and their pensions have been recently increased.
Fadnavis had earlier tweeted about the anniversary of Emergency, calling it “the darkest day of Indian democracy”. “It is the same day when #Emergency was forced upon our free society,” he tweeted. “I salute every citizen who not only fought against this but also went behind the bars for preserving the ethos of world’s largest democracy!”