How do you compensate a Freedom Fighter?

How do you compensate a Freedom Fighter?

It is disturbing to know that a 99-year old freedom fighter has to face inaction and non-governance. There was no respect for his sacrifice, sufferings like floggings in custody, bullet injuries and travails while resisting British forces.

Present generation should not forget that it was the united effort of all the freedom fighters like 99 year old Radha Krishan made us free. After a few years, we may not find any freedom fighters living. Respecting and rewarding them is the least we could do. Pension in the name of Samman is what state can give. The centenarian RTI applicant’s woes should have been addressed appropriately. Why this old and senior citizen should not be responded to on priority?

Freedom Fighter Shri Radha Krishan received phatkas, floggings and bullet injuries during Quit India Movement in 1942, now struggling with red-tapism and non responsive attitude of Government of Delhi. Centre granted him pension only after Delhi High Court’s intervention, but GNCTD is yet to decide under Delhi Union Territory Freedom Fighter DUTFF scheme. At age of 99 years, the freedom fighter wanted to know about his pension under DUTFF. He was advised to submit required documents in original to enable P & AO to issue Pension Payment Order. He could not be present before CIC due to advanced age and ill-health.

His pathetic story in his own words: “I was born in 1918 at Hyderabad (Sind) (Now Pakistan) son of Shri S. R. Mirchandani, ICS, A profile Officer Collector & Distt. Magistrate, Hyderabad (Sind) under the British Rulers. I took part in Freedom Struggle, India’s Independence Launched by Mahatma Gandhiji in “Quit India Movement” during School/College days, rusticated several times while taking part in Freedom Struggle. Administered PHATKAS (STRIPS) several time in Police Lock-ups. British Rulers told my father to kick-put your son from Home & Hearth and State, if disobeyed, he will be dismissed from service. So my father did not tolerate Anti-British Activities and kicked me out from Home and family and Awarded more than Six (6) months Imprisonment from 11.08.1042 to 15.02.1943 with rigorous punishment and confined in Central Jail Hyderabad (Sind) and then transferred to Sukkur Central Jail (Sind) away from Home Town.

When Mahatma Gandhiji launched Freedom Struggle against the British Rulers Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru met my father. I was staunch follower of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhiji, Jawahar Lal Nehruji, and plunged in India’s Freedom Struggle. The Stalwarts and Veteran Congress National Leaders gave furious lecturers and social workers gathered, then British Police to disperse gathering crowd but as they did not move, then British Police ordered firing. I was holding the reigns of the Horse on which Shri Jawarhar Lal Nehru was riding and procession started, one of the Bullets pierced in my left and right legs, fell down, British Police captured me and beat mercilessly.

British Police tied my Hands and Legs with thick rope connected with saddle of the horse and dragged me on stoney rough ground wounding my body. Thereafter British Police hung me over the iron rod downwards (head hanged and legs tied with iron rod). Close my eyes with black cloth and spread poison gas over the body, I was unconscious and Police pulled out my nails from both the feets of my legs. (See photographs) and in support of the above, (copies of certificate/testimonials issued by Shri Jairamdas Doulat Ram, prominent Freedom Fighter of Hyderabad (Sind) dated 06.02.1972 and certificate dated 10.08.1972 issued by Shri G. B. Singh, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhiji and his invitation card, certificate dated 27.08.1991, and from Dr. Madan Mohan Chopra, Genl. Secy., A.I.F.F. Samiti (Regd) New Delhi and others). I was the Instrumental in breaking the shackle of the tyrannic of British Rulers, but after attainment of Independence my back has been broken by our own Babus of Independent India. After release from jail in 1943, I went to meet my parents. They disowned me, kicked out of house, ordered me not to use the surname and father’s name. Since them I am only Radha Krishan, my name.

I was under surveillance of British Police and Look-Out Notice. My property situated at Akal Bunga Gurdwara Lane, Bahi Pratab Rai Chowk, Hirabad (Near Saddar Police Thanna) Hyderabad (Sind) was confiscated.

When Mahatma Gandhiji was assassinated on 30.01.1948, I was still in Hyderabad (Sind) and helped so many Sindhis, Sikhs, Hindus migrate from Hyderabad (Sind) Railway Station.

I migrated myself alone from Hyderabad (Sind) Railway Station in August, 1948 after partition of the Country. My all belongings, credentials, testimonials, photographs of Freedom Struggle, News papers of Freedom Kranti etc., were also forfeited/snatched and they kicked me off in train also. I was left with three (3) clothes on my body when landed at Bombay V. T. Station got registered as “Refugee”. I was sent to H.M.I.S. Akbar Refugee Camp, Thane and started searching for my wife who migrated in 1947 along with distant relatives who took all her gold ornaments, jewellery etc. and left her at the mercy of the neighbourers, she remained as a migratory bird moving from one place to another place having no shelter/roof over the head and still leading miserable life, after the death of my wife.

The Babus of Ministry of Home Affairs played their game of nepotism by mixing up my file/papers with other persons of the same name Radha Krishan son of Shri Ghasi Ram, resident of Indore who took part in Praja Mandal Movement and jailed in 1947 in the Princely State of Indore (MP). Whereas I petitioner Radha Krishan, s/o Shri Sobh Raj, resident of Delhi took part in Freedom Struggle, “Quit India Movement – 1942” and jailed in Mainland before partition of the country in 1942 in Hyderabad (Sind) (Pakistan), and MHA rejected my claim saying that the appellant had already been granted Freedom Fighter Pension and closed my case.

Hon’ble Justice Rajiv Shakdhar of Delhi High Court, in a writ petition on 24.2.2015 observed: “We have noticed with disgust that the Respondent Authorities have adopted a Hyper-technical approach while dealing with the case of Freedom Fighter and ignored the basic principles/objectives of the Scheme intended to give the benefit to the sufferers in the Freedom Movement. The contradictions and discrepancies, as noticed hereinabove cannot be held to be material which could be made the basis of depriving the appellant of his right to get the Pension. The appellant has unnecessarily been dragged to litigation for no fault of his............”.

HC asked Delhi Government to initiate the process of sanction of Freedom Fighter’s Pension under its Scheme DUTFF-1989 on the basis of Judgment of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Rajiv Shakdhar dated 24.02.2015 without insisting on any other formalities.

The Commission directs the PIO/GNCTD to guide and provide necessary assistance to facilitate in securing the pension from the Govt of Delhi, with some human concern and respect for this freedom fighter. Mr. Amitabh Kundu, Dy Secretary, GAD assured to take personal care in processing the claim of the appellant within 45 days. The CIC has issued show cause notice to explain why compensation should not be paid to the freedom fighter who is harassed by lethargy and red tape, recommended CM to felicitate freedom fighter by facilitating pension and respect him, initiate disciplinary action against the concerned officer who did not properly deal with the application for pension of this old man, for such negligence and disrespect. It will be honourable to offer an unconditioned apology to the freedom fighter/appellant.

Professor Madabhushi Sridhar is a Columnist, Media Law Researcher and Central Information Commissioner.

Views are personal of the author and does not reflect LiveLaw’s views.

The decision can be read here.