DURING THE four-year tenure of the Akhilesh government, the monthly pension of political detainees — jailed under Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and Defence of India Rules (DIR) during Emergency from 1975 to 1977 — has risen 15 times, from Rs 1,000 per month to Rs 15,000 per month.
A proposal to increase the pension amount to Rs 15,000 was cleared by the state cabinet by circulation on Wednesday. The move will benefit nearly 5,500 people, who are now known as ‘Loktantra Rakshak Senani’ (fighter for democracy) and include SP leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Azam Khan and BJP’s Lalji Tandon. Even Rajendra Choudhary, the state political pension minister, is covered under the scheme.
The Akhilesh government also has plan to give legal status to the pension scheme. It is likely to introduce a bill in the ongoing Budget Session. According to the proposed bill, in case of death of a political detainee, the spouse will be eligible for pension. The step is being taken to ensure that upcoming governments cannot discontinue the pension as BSP chief Mayawati had done when she was in power (2007-12).
The scheme was first accepted in principal by the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav during a function of such political detainees on June 26, 2006. The initial sum allotted was Rs 500 per month, which was paid with effect from April 1, 2006. It was doubled to Rs 1,000 per month on January 1, 2007, which continued till March 31, 2007.
Following this, BSP came to power and the scheme was discontinued. After Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav came to power in 2012, the pension was tripled to Rs 3,000 per month on April 1, 2012. It was again doubled to Rs 6,000 per month in 2013 and made Rs 10,000 in 2014. Now, Akhilesh, in his budget speech for 2016-17, has announced that it will be hiked to Rs 15,000 per month.
The political detainees will now get pension, which is almost equal to freedom fighters, who receive Rs 15,176 per month. Both groups get free medical care in all government hospitals, except in Lucknow SGPGI, and free bus travel along with a companion. However, the freedom fighters get additional benefits like railway pass from the Union government and reservation of two per cent in state jobs for their dependents.
“We are also demanding such facilities as our role is no less. All freedom fighters, including Bhagat Singh, were tried in court and their statements published in newspapers. But, in our case, there was no trial and no newspaper published our statements. The harassment was more than British rule,” SP MLA Ravidas Mehrotra, who is also a beneficiary of the pension, said.