Weeks after they met the President Pratibha Patil, describing to her their woes, a group of freedom fighters is disheartened after the government rejected their demands, including a hike in monthly pension.
After Hindustan Times highlighted the problems faced by the freedom fighters, the President had taken keen interest in the matter. She had personally met members of the All India Freedom Fighters' Sainik Sangh in February. The delegation, led by over 100-year-old D N Tara, general secretary, and Mohan Singh Bammi, president, had then submitted a letter listing some of their demands.
It included enhancement of freedom fighters' pension, all medical facilities at one place, restoration of quota of 2% in DDA flats and a corpus fund for freedom fighters.
However, a few days ago, Tara received a letter from the home ministry — the letter was forwarded to the ministry — which rejected their demands. The letter asked the members — most of them are above 70 years today — to get in touch with the ministry of urban development in connection with their demand for restoring the 2% quota in Delhi Development Authority (DDA) flats.
The letter signed by RC Nayak, deputy secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs also stated, "There is no provision in the central scheme with regards facility of corpus fund to freedom fighters."
But a reminder in the form of statement in reply to their demand of hike in pension has really angered the veterans. The letter — HT has a copy of it — reminds the freedom fighters that approximately R15,000 is paid to the Central Samman Pensioners. Said an irate Tara, "Are they even aware there are scores of freedom fighters across India who are not covered under this central scheme? Do they have any idea what is (cost of purchasing) the monthly medicine for a person above 70 years of age?"
"They have increased their own salaries and the pension for central government employees under the sixth pay commission. So why are they making it difficult for us? After all, how many freedom fighters are left?" Tara rued.
The centenarian said he will keep fighting for the cause till his last breath. The Sainik Sangh has about three lakh direct members across India and many more are associated with it.