No Freedom Fighter or spouse from Punjab finds place in “India’s Eminent Freedom Fighter’s committee”
Kanwar Inder Singh/ royalpatiala.in
Ministry of home affairs has reconstituted a Committee of Eminent Freedom Fighters to look into the issues relating to the welfare of freedom fighters.
As per the orders, the ministry has reconstituted a committee of ten members headed by Ajay Kumar Mishra, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Government of India as its chairman and joint secretary (FFR), MHA as its member secretary. The committee has eight other members from different parts of India.
In Punjab 487 freedom fighter’s spouse are getting Freedom Fighters’ Pension, as per MHA data. Out of these 487 freedom fighter’s or spouse, no one is included in the committee. Although Punjab was the last major state to be conquered by the British in 1849, it has a vast history of freedom struggle.
“The reconstituted committee of Eminent Freedom Fighters to look into the issues relating to the welfare of freedom fighters looks like an eyewash or a mere formality. The ministry must had included a family member-spouse/ son/ daughter or grandson/ grand daughter of a freedom fighter as most of the the living freedom fighters are above 90 years and they don’t the problems their families are facing these days” said Jaspreet Singh, a grandson of a freedom fighter.
Amongst the eminent freedom fighter’s members, a 97-year-old R Madhavan, the lone surviving member of Azad Hind Fauj got the honour to be a part of this committee.
Another Freedom fighter Dandu Ram, who played an important role in getting India rid of the British also found himself in the committee. He came into limelight in 2019 when was invited for dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan but to his surprise, those present at the entrance, did not let him in. The event was held to honour the freedom fighters. Instead of being honoured, he was put to humiliation as he was denied entry by the Rashtrapati Bhavan staff.
Another committee member Kana Kunhikannan Nair Nambiar actively participated in ‘Salt Satyagraha’ at Uliyath Kadavu (near Payyanur), ‘Quit India Movement’ and other movements.
One of the member, a veteran freedom fighter and Gandhian, Nilamani Samal, recently has been elected as the President of Odisha Freedom Fighters Association.
As per ministry of home affairs, a total of 23,433 Freedom Fighters and eligible dependents drawing Samman Pension under SSSY as on 31.01.2022.
The Freedom Fighters’ Pension Scheme (FFPS) was introduced on August 15, 1972 during 25th year of independence (Silver Jubilee Year). Till July 31, 1980, the Freedom Fighters’ pension was admissible only to those who needed financial assistance on account of their meagre gross income; and the minimum pension sanctioned to a freedom fighter was Rs 200/ per month. The benefit of FFPS was extended to all freedom fighters as a token respect (Samman) w.e.f. August 1, 1980 under Swatantarta Sainik Samman Pension Scheme.