The Congress government in Chhattisgarh has scrapped the pension scheme launched by the earlier BJP administration for those detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. According to a gazette notification issued by the General Administration Department on Thursday, Loknayak Jaiprakash Narayan (MISA/Defence of India Rules (DIR) DIR detainees) Samman Nidhi Rule, 2008, has been repealed. The MISA pension scheme was meant for people jailed during the Emergency which was in force from June 25, 1975, to March 31, 1977.
Speaking to reporters, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that MISA detainees are not "freedom fighters." Under the scheme, people who spent three months in jail under MISA during the Emergency were being given Rs 10,000 per month. Those imprisoned for six months were getting Rs 15,000 per month and those jailed for over six months Rs 25,000, Notably, the state government, in January last year, had suspended the scheme from February 2019 stating it will be continued after physical verification of the beneficiaries and reassessment of the disbursement process.
News agency PTI quoted state Congress spokesperson Vikas Tiwari saying that the scheme was meant to keep BJP-RSS leaders happy and now the money being paid to its beneficiaries will be spent on employment schemes for youths. Tiwari was the one who had urged Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel to scrap the scheme after the Congress came to power in the state in December 2018.
On December 29 last year, Madhya Pradesh government order directed officials to carry out physical verification of former MISA detainees and to withhold the monthly pension of Rs 25,000 until completion of the exercise. The MISA pension costs the state more than Rs 68 crore annually, according to government sources. The pension scheme - Loknayak Jayprakash Samman Nidhi, was started by the then Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government in 2008.
Challenging the decision, Loktantrik Senani Sangh (LSS), an organisation of MISA detainees moved to the High Court. The Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Tuesday served a notice to the state government. In its plea, the LSS claimed that the pension, given to MISA detainees as per a law passed by the state assembly, was stopped out of malice. However, Additional Advocate General Ankur Modi submitted that the pension hadn't been stopped but had been put on hold to investigate if it was being given to eligible persons.
The Rajasthan government, led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, had also in October decided to discontinue the pension scheme. This decision was announced by Shanti Dhariwal, urban development and housing minister in the Gehlot government. As per the decision taken by the Rajasthan government, medical services that were being given to the people, who were imprisoned during emergency under MISA, will be regularised but the pension that was being given to them will be discontinued.