Better deal for freedom fighters

New Delhi, Feb 11 ( Health insurance schemes, prompt medical treatment and rail travel in super-fast trains were some of the decisions taken at the reconstituted committee of freedom fighters that held its first meeting in Goa.

It was also decided to establish ten chairs in central universities in the name of eminent freedom fighters and update the “Who’s Who” of freedom fighters by the Indian

Council of Historical Research in the next three years, the home ministry said in a statement Thursday.

“It was the first time that the meeting of the committee was held outside Delhi with the specific aim of holding meetings at places actively associated with freedom fighters and the freedom movement.”

The ministry also directed that only genuine freedom fighters get central pension and assured that facilities provided to them would be qualitatively improved.

“The government will ensure that fake claimants do not get undue benefits. In this regard, it was informed that an order has been issued that henceforth pension will not be sanctioned to such persons whose age at the time of participation in the freedom struggle was less than 15 years,” the statement said.

The ministry, charged with the task of giving pension to those who took part in the freedom struggle, is handing pensions to 170,634 freedom fighters or their dependents.

At present, Bihar has the highest number of beneficiaries: 24,870. It is followed by West Bengal (22,484), Uttar Pradesh (17,990), Maharashtra (17,732), Andhra Pradesh (14,573), Karnataka (10,084), Gujarat (3,596) and Delhi (2,044).

There are 22,468 freedom fighters under Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army category. Every pensioner gets Rs.11,331 a month, besides enjoying other facilities, including free travel on trains.

Meetings of the committee will now be held twice a year.