PMO gives hope to freedom fighter battling for pension

There is good news for 85-year-old freedom fighter Manohar Dattatray who has been waging a lonely battle for the last six decades to get his pension. The Prime Minister's Office has asked the Home department to look into the matter.

Dattatray, also known as Bal Pulee, got help from an unlikely source a city-based RTI activist Vihar Durve who had written to the PMO of his case as well as attached his RTI reply from the central home department from where he had sought information of pensions disbursed to freedom fighters over the last 25 years. He had attached the case of Pulee and even the recent High Court orders to the state government which saw them disbursing pension to seven freedom fighters in the state. The office has asked the home department to take "appropriate action".

"Pulee has lost both his sons. His daughter-in-law does not have a permanent job. It's time the government looks into the matter,'' Durve said. Pulee was sent to prison at the tender age of 16 for participating in an anti-British protests in 1943. He was let off soon as he was a minor.

A Bombay High Court ruling in 2000 stated that minors jailed during the freedom movement are eligible for pension. They had dismissed Pulee's claim, but after freedom fighters Haribhau Limaye and Rambhau Telang submitted an affidavit certifying that Pulee was eligible for the freedom fighters' pension, the administration recognised his claim. However, the government is yet to respond positively which made Durve write to the highest authority. Pulee's daughter-in-law Alaka says that they are living in the hope that someday the government will respond positively. "We hope the government intervenes as my father-in-law is living in the hope that the pension would bring about some respite for us," she adds.

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