Standing tall and fit for his age, DN Tara, 100, moves around his locality in Laxmi Bai Nagar, near Dilli Haat in south Delhi, with ease. He still works as the general secretary of the All India Freedom Fighters Sainik Sangh (Registered).
Tara’s life is as inspiring as it can get. To start with he belongs to the lineage of luminary martyrs Bhai Mati Dass and Bhai Paramanand. He spent around a decade in various jails during the freedom struggle. He was the political advisor to Maharaja Hari Singh during the accession process of the Jammu and Kashmir with the Indian union.
But six decades later, all he is bothered about are the poor freedom fighters. And it is this work that has made the 100-year-young blast the government of the day — not just the babudom but also the ministers — for neglecting freedom fighters. "It is due to the sacrifice of the freedom fighters that you breathe free today. How can you treat them like this?” Tara says.
The Sainik Sangh has about three lakh direct members across India and many more are associated with it by way of affiliation. "We get almost 1,500 applications/requests per month, citing problems faced by old freedom fighters,” he says.
There are two major problems faced by such freedom fighters: pension and medical facilities. The pension amount is not uniform across all states and is also different for different persons depending on certain categories. “Why should a person who was jailed for say 10 months (during freedom struggle), get lesser amount then someone jailed for two years?" he asks.
“Moreover, after the Sixth Pay Commission was implemented, everyone got increased pension except us," he fumes, bothered about the really poor old persons across India even as he leads a relatively comfortable life with his family.
But more important factor is the medical facility. “For different tests, we need to go to different hospitals.
In old age, mobility becomes a major issue, not just due to physical condition but also because of the financial crunch,” he says.