The National Executive and State Officials of Akhil Bhartiya Loktantra Senani Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, held at the Press Club of India, New Delhi, urged the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide status of `Freedom Fighters’ to all those who fought against dictatorial emergency period, as a recognition to their sacrifices towards the country.
The conference was chaired by the president Govardhan Prasad Atal to discuss the present condition of the ‘fighters of democracy’ who protested against the Emergency Rule imposed in between 1975-77 by the Indira Gandhi government. During that period several protesters were imprisoned in MISA and DIR while several others kept the struggle running by remaining underground.
Representatives from 24 states, including Ashok Kumar Yadav (Vice President), Om Shakti G Babu (Secretary), Ibotombi Singh ( Manipur), Ravi Rao Bhaumik (Assam), Shivaji Shirdhonkar (Maharashtra), Manjunath Swamy, K. N. Chhatrapati and Ganeshayaji (Karnataka), Vishnu Pad Mohanti (Orissa), Naresh Gupta, Vishnu Agarwal, Vijay Upmanyu, Vijay Kaushik, Hriday Gupta ( Delhi,), P Manilal (Kerala) were present.
The meeting expressed satisfaction as as many as 10 state governments are honouring `emergency fighters’ in various forms. The states are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra. They have announced ‘Sanman Nidhi’ (honour amount) in between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 per month.. It was also assured that the state governments would provide health and travel benefits to such people. But in the remaining 20 states, till date, nothing substantial has been done for the victims of the emergency.
Even now as many as 50,000 MISA-DIR prisoners, who fought to restore demoncracy in the country, are being neglected by various governments. The Maharashtra government has given them the status of freedom fighter. Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan governments are also preparing for the status of freedom fighters.
The Samiti has demanded that the ‘Victims of Emergency’ in the remaining 20 states should also be granted the status of Freedom Fighters and grant them ‘sanman nidhi’ pension. The committee demands that the Central Government should accept their demands which will enable them to live a dignified life.
The High Courts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab have also directed the state governments that it is their duty to honour these fighters who raised their voices for the democratic values, fundamental rights and freedom of expression when all these rights were subdued. The Madras High Court went on to claim in its ruling that ‘helping such fighters isn’t a charity.’
Surprisingly, the state and central governments are giving pensions to 1921-22 Mopla Rebels, Agitators of Khilafat Movement (1919-1922), Anti-independence Travancore movement, China-backing Communist Movements. The Central Government has alone allocated Rs 2525 crore for the period of 2017-20 for participants of such movements. Since 1980, an estimated fund of Rs 7000-8000 crore was spent. Alleging that a major chunk of this sum goes to the commissions and not the beneficiaries, the meeting has demanded the government to probe into all such allegations