Maharashtra confers freedom fighter status on 52 in one day

Mumbai, July 10 (IANS) The Maharashtra government conferred the status of ‘freedom fighter’ on 88 people this year till June 5, including 52 from Beed district on a single day, an RTI query revealed.

This was done in alleged contravention of rules, said RTI activist Anil Galgali, who filed the application seeking the status of freedom fighters’ pension and other issues.

Those given the freedom status from January 1 till June 5, 2015 include 79 people from Beed (including the 52), apart from four each from Osmanabad and Ahmednagar and one from Nanded.

“This decision of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will put an additional burden of Rs.6.50 crore on the exchequer. Moreover, this was done without the approval and recommendation of the district felicitation committee and the district collector,” Galgali told IANS.

“Why this special treatment to Beed district? Is it linked to the influence of a powerful political family hailing from there,” Galgali asked.

The decision was based on consderation of ‘attachment warrants’ issued to these people as proof of their participation in the Indian independence struggle.

“This is in complete contravention to the action of the previous Congress-NCP government which constituted Justice A.B. Palkar Commission on the recommendation of the Supreme Court. The Commission rejected claims of 298 of the 355 people from Beed for freedom fighter status as ‘bogus’ on the basis of similar attachment warrants,” Galgali pointed out.

The general administration department’s (GAD) freedom fighters desk, replying to Galgali’s RTI query, said that between January 1 and June 5 this year, a total of 88 cases of freedom fighters’ pension issues were approved.

“The bogus cases weeded out by the Palkar Commission halted their pensions,” Galgali said.

“I have written to the chief minister, Patil, chief secretary and principal secretary of GAD demanding action on these apparent gross irregularities that have come out in the RTI reply,” he added.

Presently, there are an estimated 7,500 freedom fighters from the state. Another 6,000 get pension and other benefits from the central government for their role during the freedom movement.

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