In Madhya Pradesh, emergency detainees, freedom fighters at par

December 22nd, 2011 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Dec 22 (IANS) The Madhya Pradesh government has hiked the honorarium for those detained during the Emergency to Rs.15,000 per month, taking it at par with the pension received by freedom fighters.

According to the hike announced Tuesday, those who spent less than six months in jail during the Emergency will get Rs.10,000 instead of Rs.3,000 a month while those who were jailed for over six months will receive Rs.15,000 instead of Rs.10,000.

The freedom fighters’ monthly pension was also hiked Dec 15 to Rs.15,000 from the earlier Rs.6,000.

“It is a politics of vote bank at the cost of public money. Even though we are less in numbers, the government announces increase in honorarium from mid-December, which means we will get only half of the increased amount from this month,” Freedom Fighters Association general secretary Md. Mukhtar Khan told IANS.

Madhya Pradesh is the only state in the country where those detained under the much-maligned and now defunct Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency get such a high amount in monthly honorarium.

In 2008, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government started giving money to MISA detainees under the Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narain Honorarium Rules-2008 — made for extending assistance to those who were detained for political or social reasons during the 1975-1977 emergency when civil liberties were suspended, political opponents jailed and the press muzzled.

That time, the amount was fixed at Rs.6,000 and around 4,000 detainees were identified.

There are 584 surviving freedom fighters in the state while the total number of widows of freedom fighters are 1,500.

Currently, there are around 5,000 MISA detainees. However, with the new provision the number is expected to increase.

The new provision to get enrolled as a MISA detainee is also pretty similar to the one to get enrolled as a freedom fighter who fought against the British.

If records of a MISA detainee are not available with the jail, police and district magistrate, then an affidavit or attestation of two people detained with the applicant will be recognised as valid for the honorarium purposes.

This certification will have to be attested by existing or former MP or legislator. If only one record is available and the jail authorities certify that rest of the documents are not available, then a minimum of one month’s detention will be recognised.

The government has also announced half honorarium for the husband or wife of a person who died without being recognised as a MISA detainee.

Bhupendra Gupta, son of freedom fighter Gopal Krishan Azad, said: “When freedom struggle had taken place, the jail and other records were with British officials. But when emergency took place, it was the state government itself. So how come their records could not be found?”

“During the chief minister Sunderlal Patwa’s rule, Rs.25,000 was given as one-time payment to those who suffered losses because of emergency. So, it was not needed at all. This is a completely wrong tradition Shivraj Singh Chouhan has begun,” said Gupta, president of Descendents of Freedom Fighter’s Association.

“It is a step to benefit own people using public exchequers. But this trend will make other parties do the same which will result in people serving in jail for one reason or another.”

However, Chouhan’s cabinet members are a happy lot.

“It was a very necessary step, there were a lot of people who had to go to jail because of Emergency, but could not get their due,” Urban Administration and Development Minister Babulal Gaur, a MISA detainee himself, told IANS.

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