What is the Government Doing for India’s Freedom Fighters?
How is the Indian government rewarding our respected freedom fighters?
Every Independence day, we recollect and remind ourselves of the great sacrifices by our forefathers. But what exactly is the government doing for those freedom fighters and their families? Let’s learn more about the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme.
Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme
During the Silver Jubilee year of Independence (1972), a Central Scheme for grant of pension to freedom fighters and their eligible dependents (Where freedom fighters have already expired) was introduced by Government of India in 1972. In 1980, the Scheme was liberalised and renamed as Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 and made effective from August 1980.
The Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 was introduced to extend the pension scheme to the freedom fighters and their dependent families. The following list of movements/mutinies are recognised for award of pension under this scheme.
- Suez Canal Army Revolt in 1943 during Quit India Movement & Ambala Cantt. Army Revolt in 1943.
- Jhansi Regiment Case in Army (1940)
- Rani Jhansi Regiment and Azad Hind of INA
- Hollwell Revolt Movement conducted by Netaji in 1940 at Calcutta.
- Royal Indian Navy Mutiny, 1946.
- Khilafat Movement.
- Harsha China Morcha (1946-47)
- Mopla Rebellion (1921-22)
- Arya Samaj Movement in the erstwhile Hyderabad State (1938-39)
- Madurai Conspiracy Case (1945-47)
- Border Camp Cases in erstwhile Hyderabad State (1947-48)
- The Ghaddar Movement
- The Gurudwara Reform Movement (1920-25) including :-
- Taran Taran Morcha
- Nankana Tragedy of Feb. 1920
- The Golden Temple Ke Affairs (Morcha Chabian Saheb)
- Guru Ka Bagh Morcha
- Babar Akali Movement
- Jaito Morcha
- Bhai Pheru Morcha; and
- The Sikh Conspiracy (Golden Temple) of 1924
- Praja Mandal Movement in the erstwhile Princely States (1939-49)
- Kirti Kisan Movement (1927)
- Navjavan Sabha (1926-31)
- Quit India Movement 1942
- INA & IIL (1942 to 1946)
- Merger Movements in the former French and Portuguese Possessions in India.
- Peshawar Kand in which members of the Garhwal Rifles took part
- Read leaf Conspiracy Case (1931)
- Chaura Chauri Kand (1922)
- Aranya Satyagraha of Karnataka (1939-40)
- Goa Liberation Movement
- Kalipattanam Agitation (1941-42)
- Kallara-Pangode Case
- Kadakkal Riot Case
- Chengannur Riot Case
- Vattiyoorkavu Conference
- Anti-Independent Travancore Movement
- Punnapra-Vayalar Movement
- Karivelloor Movement
- Kauvambai Movement
- Kayyur Movement
- Morazha Movement
- Malabar Special Police Strike (MSP Strike)
- Dadara Nagar Haveli Movement.
Who is Eligible?
The following categories of freedom fighters are eligible for the Samman Pension under the Scheme. Anyone who wishes to apply for pension under this scheme has to follow the guidelines as prescribed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- Eligible dependents of martyrs.
- A person who had suffered a minimum imprisonment of six months on account of participation in the freedom struggle.
- A person who, on account of his participation in the freedom struggle, remained underground for more than six months.
- A person who, on account of participation in the freedom struggle, was interned in his home or externed from his district for a minimum period of 6 months.
- A person whose property was confiscated or attached and sold due to his participation in the freedom struggle.
- A person who, on account of participation in the freedom struggle, became permanently incapacitated during firing or lathi charge.
- A person who lost his Government job for participation in the freedom struggle.
- A person who was awarded the punishment of ten or more strokes of caning/flogging/whipping for his participation in the freedom struggle.
- As a special dispensation for women freedom fighters and for the freedom fighters belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the minimum period of imprisonment/jail sufferings has been kept at three months in place of six months.
- Spouses (widows/widowers), unmarried and unemployed daughters (up-to maximum three) and mother or father of deceased freedom fighters (as also of martyrs) in that order are eligible for grant of dependent family pension under the scheme.
What is the pension amount?
The following amount of pension is extended to various categories of freedom fighters and their dependents. This pension amount is not taxable. As per the data available with the government, about 38,000 beneficiaries are receiving pension through banks across the country as on date.
What Other Facilities are Extended to Freedom Fighters?
Apart from the pension amount as mentioned above, Freedom Fighters are also extended the following facilities
- Free railway pass-AC-II Class in Rajdhani trains, Chair Car in Shatabdi trains and 1st Class/AC Sleeper in all other trains for the freedom fighters/ their widows, along with a companion, for life.
- Free medical facilities in all Central Government hospitals and in hospitals run by PSUs under the control of the Bureau of Public Enterprises. C.G.H.S. facilities have also been extended to the freedom fighters and their dependents.
- Telephone connection, subject to feasibility, without installation charges, and on payment of only half the rental;
- Provision of 4% reservation under “Combined Category” for Physically Handicapped Personnel(PH), Outstanding Sports Persons(OSP) and Freedom Fighters(FF) in the normal selection procedure adopted by Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies for allotment of petrol pumps, gas agencies etc.
- General pool residential accommodation (within the overall 5% discretionary quota) to the freedom fighters in Delhi. Widow of a freedom fighter is also permitted to retain the accommodation for a period of six months after death of the freedom fighter.
- There is a Freedom Fighters’ Home at New Delhi providing transit accommodation for freedom fighters/their eligible dependents.
- Ex-Andaman freedom fighters/ their widows have also been allowed to avail free air travel facility to visit Andaman & Nicobar Islands, once a year, along with a companion.
Expenditure in the Last 10 years (From 2004-05 to 2013-14)
The government spent a total of 6,332 crore rupees on pensions, 261 crore on railway passes and about a crore rupees on the Freedom Fighters home in the last 10 years.
Off late, there have been a lot of complaints of banks playing foul, ineligible citizens getting pensions, more than 3,000 people receiving pension for many years after death etc in the implementation of the scheme. The Ministry of Home affairs has put out a list of revised guidelines in the light of these complaints.
(Rakesh Dubbudu is the co-founder of Factly, which helps build data literacy. )
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