50 years, but no pension; martyr’s brother slams state
Dattaram Ghadigaonkar, the 77-year-old brother of Samyukta Maharashtra movement martyr Sitaram Ghadigaonkar, said on Friday that he would boycott Maharashtra Day celebrations in protest against the government failing to acknowledge the martyrs and denying their families pension.
The Samyukta Maharashtra movement, which began in 1956, aimed to create a state of Marathi-speaking people with Mumbai as its capital. This demand was finally acceded to in 1960.
“The government gazette has still not acknowledged the 105 martyrs who died in police firing during the Samyukta Maharashtra (united Maharashtra) movement,” said Ghadigaonkar, who has written numerous times on this issue over the last 25 years. He has even written to various chief ministers about it.
MLA Kiran Pavaskar recently raised this question in the Assembly. Still, Ghadigaonkar said, he is yet to get a proper response from the government. The government recognises only those who were in jail for 30 days for more during the movement. “Those martyrs who do not fit this criteria are not acknowledged,” said Ghadigaonkar.
Also, he asked, why Samyukta Maharashtra martyrs’ families were not being granted pensions. “Even though they laid down their lives for the state, the government is making their families run from pillar to post,” he said.
Ghadigaonkar had taken his case to Shankarrao Chavan, then chief minister of Maharashtra, in 1988, who had assured him that he would look into the matter.
But even though his son Ashok Chavan is now the chief minister, his case is yet to get a concrete response. Ghadigaonkar said he was “angry at how little the government seems to value the families of those who laid down their lives for the cause”.