Over 1.7 lakh freedom fighters receiving pension for the services rendered more than 68 years back
As per the records of the Ministry of Home, 171,520 freedom fighters or their dependents receive pensions from the government. The Swatantra Senani Samman Yojna was launched in the early 1970s to honour the freedom fighters and provide them pension in recognition of the services rendered during the country’s struggle for Independence. The Freedom fighters are granted a monthly pension of Rs.15,000 and other perks from the centre like a railway pass for unlimited travel to any place in India, in addition to state government help. As per the data, the central government spent Rs 772.85 crore ($127 million) on pension to freedom fighters and their eligible dependents in the financial year 2012-13 under the various schemes in the country.
The number of dependents are now said to be higher than the number of freedom fighters. Reply to the application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that Bihar has the maximum number of freedom fighters or their dependents who get pensions from the government, the figure being 23,000 for the year 2012-13 figures. The reply further shows that there has been no change in the numbers during the last five years. The Bihar government provides an additional pension of Rs 2,000 per month to them.
The RTI applicant desired to know the role of each freedom fighter in the Independence movement along with the details of dates of their association and attested photocopies of the supporting documents submitted by them as an evidence of their active role in freedom struggle. The verification of freedom fighters appears to be incomplete even 68 years after achieving independence. Critics have pointed that with little updating of records, the possibility of inflated / incorrect figures of persons receiving pension is high.