No pension for freedom fighter

Jan 26, 2014, 09:37 IST | Kaumudi Gurjar

He fought the colonial rulers during the freedom struggle and was arrested in 1943. The British accepted he was a freedom fighter by jailing him but the Indian government proves tougher to convince. At 85, Bal Pulee is yet to receive his freedom fighter's pension

The continuous efforts put forward by Manohar Dattatray alias Bal Pulee to obtain pension for himself seem to have hit rock bottom as the state government simply refuses to recognise him as a freedom fighter.

Bal Pulee
Bal Pulee has submitted affidavits by well-known freedom fighters, but the state government sent him a letter stating that he has not been able to submit records validating his jail term. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Pulee, who is 85-years-old now, was 16 when he took part in an anti-British Raj protest and was even imprisoned for eight days. However, he could not avail of the freedom fighter pension, as the government rule then stated that freedom fighters had to spend at least six months in jail to be eligible for the same. Later, however, a Bombay High court ruling stated that minors jailed during the freedom movement are also eligible.

Pulee was arrested on August 8, 1943 and had spent eight days at Yerwada Central Jail before the jail administration released him for being a minor. Pulee’s claim of being a freedom fighter was seconded by well-known freedom fighters including Haribhau Limaye and Rambhau.

Vihar Durve, an RTI activitist who’s pursuing Pulee’s case, says that the need for pension became urgent after Pulee, who was a photographer, lost both his sons and daughter-in-law a few months ago, leaving them behind with two granddaughters to take care of.

Durve said, “I had filed an RTI application at the general administration department two months ago, seeking information on Pulee’s application for pension and to know if a change in Government Regulation of 1995 was underway. During the first appeal conducted at Mantralaya last week, I was orally informed that the said matter was pending with Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan.”

Durve was compelled to act after a letter was sent by the state government to the District Collector’s office in September last year, stating that as Pulee was unable to submit the records validating his claims of arrest and subsequent jail term, he is not eligible for pension. This letter was sent by the state government, even after Pulee submitted affidavits by two well-known freedom fighters

His wife Sulabha told SUNDAY MiD DAY, “The letter has snapped all our hopes and at this age, it is not possible for us to work. I sincerely feel the government should recognise his role as a freedom fighter and issue him pension when we need the money most.”

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