CM Uddhav Thackeray
MUMBAI: The cash-strapped Uddhav Thackeray-led state government on Friday scrapped the pension scheme for Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) detainees during the Emergency to mobilize funds for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The proposal was approved in the cabinet meeting held on June 2 and presided over by CM Thackeray.
A one-page order issued by the deputy secretary (general administration) S M Khode states that since the state government is facing acute shortage of funds in view of a slowdown in the economy, it has been decided to scrap the pension scheme for detainees during the Emergency from 1975-77 with immediate effect. “In view of huge revenue deficit, the government has decided to wind up the pension scheme,” Khode said in his order.
The decision is being viewed as a major setback for former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who had on June 7, 2018 drafted the scheme to provide pension of Rs 10,000 per month to detainees during the Emergency era. Thackeray has cancelled a large number of key policy decisions taken by the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government, the most significant being the waiver of Rs 1.5 crore stamp duty granted to an organization associated with the RSS.
On the pension scheme, a senior GAD official said that after Fadnavis declared the scheme, out of 5,000 MISA detainees in the state, 3,267 applied for pension, and pension was approved for 1,179 persons. For the financial year 2018-19, a budgetary provision of Rs 42 crore was made, of which Rs 29 crore had been disbursed.
BJP’s chief spokesperson Keshav Upadhye took strong objection to the state government’s decision, saying it was politically motivated. “In our opinion, those people who fought against the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi are also freedom fighters as they fought for the basic rights of people. After due consideration, Fadnavis had approved the pension scheme for MISA detainees,” Upadhye said.
There had been demands earlier that those detained and arrested during the Emergency years should be given a citation too.