Two days after the Maharashtra government announced a monthly pension of Rs 10,000 to those who were jailed during the Emergency for more than a month; some of the probable beneficiaries have refused to accept it.
A group of artists and activists who participated in anti-Emergency protests and were jailed by the then government have said the pension scheme will put unnecessary strain on the state. They have suggested that the money should instead be used for developmental projects in the state.
In a report on Friday, Mumbai Mirror said Dr Suresh Khairnar of Rashtra Seva Dal, socialist leader Pannalal Surana, activists Surekha Dalvi and Daniel Majhgaonkar, and singer Amrendra Dhaneshwar are some of those who have announced not to avail the pension scheme.
Announcing their decision, they said that while participating in the anti-Emergency protests, they were merely doing their duty as citizens.
“It is wrong to seek a pension for the anti-Emergency demonstrations. There have been countless agitations and movements in India. One cannot claim pension for taking a stand,” Khairnar was quoted in the report. He was lodged in Amaravati jail throughout the Emergency.
Speaking in a similar vein, Dalvi, then a students’ leader active during the Emergency, said the students fought against the Indira Gandhi government to restore citizens’ rights and did not do so with the expectation of being rewarded by any future governments.
“Associating our efforts with some form of payment would be very insulting,” Dalvi was quoted in the report by Mumbai Mirror.
The pension scheme also provides a monthly pension of Rs 5,000 to those who remained behind bars for less than a month during the Emergency.
The government also decided to pay monthly pension of Rs 5,000 to widows of those who had served more than a month in jail and Rs 2500 for the widows of those who had served less than a month in jail.
Maharashtra is not the only state to announce a pension scheme for activists who participated in the anti-Emergency protests. In December 2017, the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan had announced a similar scheme for all Rajasthanis who were imprisoned during Emergency anywhere in the country.