Vaman Waghmare (65) spent Rs 1,200 on a train ride from Nagpur to Delhi — a sum equivalent to his six-month pension. He was one of the thousands who had gathered at Jantar Mantar Sunday to demand universal pension for the elderly, single women, and people with disabilities. “I was a labourer for decades and then I injured my hand…for months, I haven’t received my pension . How am I to survive?” he asked.
The protest was organised by Pension Parishad, and on Monday, a “jan manch” will be set up to address the issues at Jantar Mantar. From Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu came a train full of 1,200-plus protesters, and eight buses from Rajsamand in Rajasthan.
“We want a central government minimum pension of Rs 3,000 a month. The recent death of a 68-year-old woman in West Bengal due to starvation happened because she didn’t receive old age or widow pension,” said Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS).
Among the 250 women from Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district was 47-year-old widow Sunita, who has spent Rs 1,800 on this trip to Delhi.
“We are supposed to get Rs 800 a month, but the money comes to us once in four months…I am dependent on relatives,” she said. Present at the protest was CPM leader Brinda Karat, MKSS founder Aruna Roy and social activist Harsh Mander. For 70-year-old Phooliya Devi from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, trouble began when the “biometrics failed at the local post office.”
“It’s been two years since I got the pension…I have not left my village in years but I had to this time so PM Modi can hear my plea clearly,” she said.