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From fighting for independence to pleading for pension

india Updated: Oct 08, 2012 01:13 IST
Harish V Nair
Harish V Nair
Hindustan Times
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Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and not caring about their career or family, they had in the prime of their youth plunged into freedom struggle 66 years ago.

They are 70 former sailors from Kerala who participated in the 1946 Royal Indian Navy mutinee against the British at Bombay and were expelled on the pretext of "excess to requirements".

Since 32 years they are in a battle with the government after denied freedom fighter's pension under Swathantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme 1980.

This is a perfect example of 'justice delayed is justice denied' as 18 of them have already died waiting for pension.

The freedom fighters are upset and angry that the centre simply refuses to obey Kerala high court's repeated directions - in 2006, 2011 and 2012 - to pay them pension.

Since 1980 they under the banner of Royal Indian Navy Mutineers Association (RINMA) made several representations to home ministry and defence ministry but did not yield any result.

Court had rejected centre's argument that sailors dismissed on the ground of 'excess to requirements' could not be considered on par with other sailors discharged for participating in the mutiny for grant of pension.

After the court orders, the home ministry says their claim could be considered only if recommended by the defence ministry.

They then twice wrote to defence minister AK Antony in 2012 bringing the court orders to his attention but "matter is being looked into" is the only reply they got

RINMA vice president 85-year-old Prabhakaranunni Nair said: "We have been running from pillar to post since 33 years. We thought Mr Antony being from Kerala will
be sympathetic to us".

"It is our last prayer that we be declared the real freedom fighters before we die", said RINMA secretary 87-year-old EN Kidav.

Kerala freedom fighters denied pension seek defence minister AK Antony's intervention
The 70 sailors had participated in 1946 Royal Indian Navy mutinee
18 of them already dead; 52 continue fight for pension
Centre says since they were expelled for being "excess to requirement, cannot be granted pension
Home ministry says pension can be given if defence ministry approves
Kerala high court thrice ordered payment of pension
Freedom fighters upset that Antony merely assuring them "matter is being looked into"