RTI activist threatened for exposing fake freedom fighters
Manohar Mishra, a resident of Jhanjharpur in Madhubani district of Bihar tried to get the names of his grandfather Markandey Mishra and later his (Markandey’s) widow Tapeshwari Devi in the list of freedom fighters included in the list of freedom fighters, bribe was allegedly demanded from him. During his grandparents lifetime, they could not get the benefits. A few years later in 2012, he initiated the process of filing RTI applications to know about the number and names of freedom fighters receiveing pension under the Swatantra Senani Samman Pension scheme. He desired to know about the role played by each of the freedom fighter in the independence movement including documentary evidence etc. which show that they actually took part in the freedom movement.
Information provided under RTI revealed that Bihar has the highest number of freedom fighters in the country totalling nearly 23,000 and the number has remained unchanged during the last 5 years. Mishra has claimed that he was not provided detailed information taking the plea that no such records were available with the government. He has contended that a well knit racket is running in the state with the collusion of some officials and has demanded a probe. He has further claimed that nearly Rs 800 crore was spent annually in the country on the pension scheme for the freedom fighters. The centre grants a monthly remuneration of Rs. 15,000/- and a railway pass for unlimited travel to each freedom fighter while the Bihar state government grants another Rs 2,000 on a monthly basis.
Following the RTI application, the RTI applicant has alleged that he and his family is receiving threats for exposing the racket. Mishra, who works for a private firm, is currently staying in Calcutta and has sought police protection for himself and his family. He has also approached the the Union home minister, Rajnath Singh, seeking the police protection claiming that those behind the racket of fake freedom fighters are threatening him. He has averred that even those who were not born in 1947 are claiming freedom fighter status.