The Madhya Pradesh government has put on hold payment of pension to those who were detained in an emergency under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) Act. The scheme had been launched by the BJP government.
Weeks after returning to power, the Congress government passed a government order directing officials to hold the monthly pension of Rs. 25,000 until physical verification of former MISA detainees is over.
It also cited auditors’ objections to the scheme.
The move has drawn sharp criticism from the BJP. “Great injustice has been done to the people from each section of society who had opposed and suffered a lot during the Emergency that had been imposed to hound people and stifle the democracy,” said state BJP general secretary V D Sharma.
“The victims were not affiliated to a particular ideology,” he said, adding that “we are going to oppose the Congress government’s decision tooth and nail”.
Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja said the order does not scrap the pension scheme but only talks about an important exercise prior to the disbursement of money. The BJP was raising hue and cry for no reason, he alleged.
Congress sources, however, said that party leaders believed that most of the beneficiaries of the pension were related to the BJP or the Sangh parivar.
The MISA pension costs Rs. 70 to 75 crore to the state coffers annually, as per the government sources.
In the Emergency imposed by the Congress government led by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi between 1975 to 1977, thousands of people were detained under MISA across the country.
Those detained covered, mainly, members of opposition parties as well as organizations such as the Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS).
The pension scheme — called Loknayak Jayprakash Samman Nidhi — was commenced by the BJP government led by Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the state in 2008. It was enshrined into law last year.
Former chief minister Babulal Gaur, who was detained for 19 months during the Emergency and who gets pension under the scheme, said he would not comment on the issue.