MANGALORE: The Karnataka government's move to stop pension and other benefits to freedom fighters who participated in the liberation of Goa in 1955-56, has come under severe criticism, as there were over 25 freedom fighters and their relatives of the district who had played an active role in the struggle. The Karnataka government took a decision in this regard recently and proposed to wrap up pension and other benefits due to them through a government order No DPAR 4265 PPG dated April 2, 1994. Talking to the reporters here, veteran freedom fighter Ammembala Balappa said that the government's decision to withdraw pension had forced the freedom fighters to fight again, this time for their rights. He said that it was objectionable to note that the state government had little regard for the freedom fighters of the state, while similar fighters in the states neighbouring Kerala, Goa and Maharashtra had been offered full benefits. The pension that was started as a small sum slowly was increased to Rs 750 and later to Rs 1,000 before being withdrawn, he said. T.P. Rao, another veteran freedom fighter maintained that the secretary to the state government (DPAR) had, on the requests made by the 1938 recognised freedom fighters in the state, written a letter to the president of the Akhila Karnataka Goa Freedom Fighters Association to take up the cause of the freedom fighters and certify the records of the individuals who had applied for the provisions. The letter had also maintained that the register indicating the persons who participated in the liberation be verified. Balappa said that the state government, by calling for applications of the freedom fighters some time earlier in the ministry of Bangarappa and subsequently cancelling off the benefits conferred, was a stepmotherly act. Rao maintained that the government order dated January 29, 1991, was an ammendment of the the Karnataka State Freedom Fighters Welfare Rules 1969 that allowed for the grant of political pension to those freedom fighters, widows of freedom fighters who participated in the Goa Liberation Movement of 1955-56. Although the report that was required by the state government had been tabled in the cabinet six months earlier, and that more than 15 ministers in the present government had extended their support to the cause of the freedom fighters, the chief minister had not issued any orders to continue the issue of the pension and the clearance of the arrears pending. He further stated that although 4200 individuals had applied for the pension the government had approved only 1938, and even those freedom fighters who have been earlier approved by the government have been withdrawn all benefits of pension without a clear explanation. He called upon the government to look into the issue more seriously and take up the matter immediately. Most of the freedom fighters are above the age group of sixty five and it would do a lot of good if the Krishna government put an end to the dispute at the earliest in the interest of the people who had put their everything in the freedom struggle, he added.
courtecy-Times of India ,2 Jan 2001