March 20, 2021 10:49:11 pm
The Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly Saturday passed a Bill to give honorarium to people from the state who were imprisoned during the Emergency in the 1970s for social or political reasons.
Eighty-one beneficiaries, called ‘Loktantra Prahris’ (sentinels of democracy), have so far been identified in the state, and they will be paid Rs 8,000 in case of imprisonment of up to 15 days and Rs 12,000 in case of imprisonment of more than 15 days, said Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur who introduced The Himachal Pradesh Loktantra Prahri Samman Bill, 2021.
“During the period of Emergency in the country from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977, several people had fought for conservation of the existence of democracy and protection of fundamental rights of the people so that the democracy could be revived. The state government has decided to grant Samman Rashi to those Loktantra Prahris who actively participated in the protection of democracy during Emergency period and were detained in jails or police stations under the provisions of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1971 (repealed) or Defence of India Rule, 1971 (repealed) or the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for political or social reasons,” said Thakur in his statement of objects and reasons.
He said that a committee will be constituted to consider the claims of the applicants and the honorarium will be cancelled on certain grounds such as submission of false documents. A person who has been punished by a court on charges of moral turpitude will be ineligible for the honorarium. Spouses of the deceased Loktantra Prahris will also be eligible for the honorarium.
During the discussion on the Bill, Congress MLA from Nadaun Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu suggested that people who were imprisoned during the Emergency for vandalism should not be given the honorarium.
He said that the term ‘Loktantra Prahri’ should be changed as it is a wider term which also includes people such as RTI activists and journalists. He also alleged that only people associated with the BJP will be given the honorarium.
Thakur replied that BJP was not in existence in 1975 and people from various ideological backgrounds, including journalists, who raised their voice against the Emergency will be given the honorarium if eligible. “Emergency was a time when democracy in our country was crushed. Several other states such as Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra have enacted similar laws to honour those who spoke up against it,” he said.
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