Indian Army has proposed that the veterans of 1965 and 1971 war be given freedom fighters’ pension. Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Narawane made the announcement.
During Twenty fifth anniversary celebration of Independence, a Central Scheme for the grant of pension to freedom fighters and their families from Central Revenues was introduced by the Government of India. The Scheme was started on 15th August, 1972 and provided for the grant of pension to living freedom fighters and their families; if they are no more alive, and to the families or martyrs.
In the year 1980 it was renamed to Swantantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980.
The eligibility criteria entailed in the Ministry of Home Affairs website reads, “A person who had suffered a minimum imprisonment of six months in the mainland jails before Independence. However, ex-INA personnel will be eligible for pension if the imprisonment/detention suffered by them was outside India.”
It also says, “The minimum period of actual imprisonment for eligibility of pension has been reduced to three months, in case of women and SC/ST freedom fighters from 01.08.1980.”
The central government has granted a fund of 750 crores, 825 crores, 907 crores respectively for the year 2017-18, 18-19 and 19-20, for the Swantantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme.
There are three categories of freedom fighters, first; Ex-Andaman prisoners/ spouses of political prisoners are entitled to pension of Rs 30,900 per month. The second category is Freedom fighters/ spouse who suffered outside British India are entitled to a sum of Rs 28,840 per month, the third category is of other Freedom Fighters/ spouses including those who were a part of the Indian National Army led by Subhash Chandra Bose, they are entitiled to Rs 26,780 per month. Dependent parents and other eligible (independent, unmarried) daughter are eligible to be paid 50% of what is entitled to the freedom fighter.
The Centre claims that at present 37,356 freedom fighters and their eligible dependent pensioners are covered under this scheme which includes 12,657 freedom fighters and 23,127 dependent spouses and 1572 daughters.
However, an RTI filed by news channel India Today TV reveals that, “Around 10,483 freedom fighters are still getting Central Samman Pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Yojana as on November 30, 2018.”