An illiterate 83-year-old rickshaw-puller, who succumbed to his injuries after having set himself ablaze on Saturday, was a pension activist who had assured some pensioners that he would provide them their due.
“Beneficiaries of old-age and widow pension used to complain to my father whenever the government stopped sending them money. He used to dictate letters addressed to the authorities, seeking the release of pension,” said Renu Bala, daughter of deceased Som Nath.
She said her grandfather had been a reader of the judge.
“My grandfather use to gave them knowledge about the bureaucracy and how to lodge a complaint if you are not getting justice,” Bala said.
On March 25, he wrote to the district social security officer (DSSO), asking for the release of his pension and after no revert back from social security office, he had written a similar letter to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kapurthala Ashish Chaudhary on April 16 as well, but to no avail.
Statewide pensioners were not receiving pension for the past eight months, as government is busy in wading out the ineligible pensioners since December.
As per information, the state government in December last year had directed all the deputy commissioners to conduct survey of old-aged pensioners registered till November 30 to remove the ineligible pensioners from the list and the survey had to be completed by February 1.
However, the social security department has completed the survey by February 01, but now government again asked them to reverify the wade out list to ensure no that no genuine person is marked as ineligible.
Depressed Som Nath, after not getting proper feedback from the authorities about when the pension will be disbursed, he had decided to demonstrate protest outside Punjab National Bank at Dhilwan on Saturday.
During his protest, he had written on a banner, “I am sitting on a protest for not receiving government pension since September 09 and the entire responsibility will be of chief minister Badal.”
“We thought he had gone to demonstrate protest, but we were totally unaware that he will take this extreme step just to provide pension,” she said.
He had also demonstrated a similar protest in 2009, when the government has stopped disbursing the pension, but after ensured by the bank manager Des Raj, he stop the protest.
“After he had protested earlier, the government has started giving regular pension but now again they have started dilly-dallying in pension,” Bala said.
Gulberg Lal, district social security officer said that they have not recieved any letter from the Som Nath.
"We immediately disburse all the pension amount to the beneficiaries account when we receive from the government," he added.
Meanwhile, all the pensioners have not received pensions of October to March month so far while pension of September month was disbursed in January.