The Rajasthan government on Monday decided to discontinue the pension provided to those detained under the National Emergency under the provisions of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) and the Defence of India Rules (DIR) enacted in 1962. While addressing journalists after a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal informed them.
In January, the Madhya Pradesh government under Chief Minister Kamal Nath, too, had put on hold the pensions under MISA and DIR, which were called the Loknayak Jaiprakash Narayan Samman Nidhi and were drafted in 2008. The government argued that there were many fake and ineligible beneficiaries.
While addressing journalists, Dhariwal, who is the Minister for Local Self Government as well as Urban Development and Housing, said, “We don’t consider them as freedom fighters or as sentinels of democracy”.
The government of Rajasthan claims that this decision will save the exchequer about Rs 40 crore annually.
According to the press release issued by the Rajasthan government, along with the pension, other benefits such as medical facilities and any other allowances will also be withdrawn.
MISA came into force in 1971 when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister and it gave the government and law enforcement agencies the right to detain certain individuals in order to maintain internal security. Under this act, a person could be detained for a maximum period of 12 months.
In the same decade, Gandhi declared a national emergency between 1975-1977 under which journalists, scholars and activists among others were detained without trial. Some of the detainees include politicians such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mulayam Singh Yadav and M K Stalin.
On the other hand, the DIR was enacted in 1962, “to provide for special measures to ensure the public safety and interest, the defence of India and civil defence and for the trial of certain offences and for matters connected therewith.”
In 2008 rules for a pension scheme were drafted under the Rajasthan Loktantra Senani Samman Nidhi Niyam. Under this scheme all those who had been detained in jails or police stations between June 25, 1975 and March 21, 1977 for political or social reasons were eligible.
Claimants were required to present proof of having been detained or spent time in jail under MISA or DIR. In case they were unable to present proof, applicants had to get two beneficiaries to the scheme to attest claimant’s assertion of being jailed during the Emergency.
This is not the first time that the Congress government has suspended these rules. In 2009, the Congress government suspended the rules in 2009. Then in 2014, the BJP government under Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje brought them back.
In the Other States
Under MISA and DIR, pensions are given to claimants in Haryana, Maharashtra and Bihar. In Haryana, a monthly amount of Rs 10,000 is given under the Haryana State Shubhra Jyotsna Pension and other Facilities Scheme, 2018 and there are over 400 beneficiaries.
In Maharashtra, a monthly amount of between Rs 5,000- 10,000 is provided. Whereas in Bihar, a monthly amount of Rs 10,000 is given to beneficiaries who have spent more than six months in jail and an amount of Rs 5,000 is given to those who have spent less than six months in jail under the JP Senani Samman Yojana Pension for participants in the JP (Jayaprakash Narayan) movement.
Out of the over 2,600 beneficiaries of this scheme, over 1,000 were detained under MISA.