Freedom fighter forced to fight for pension


Neenaz Ichaporia,CNN-IBN
Jan 09, 2010 at 01:38pm IST

New Delhi: A 90-year-old freedom fighter from Bihar has been on dharna in New Delhi for the past four years demanding her pension.

Gayatri Devi has been forced to live on the streets of Delhi because the government has withdrawn her freedom fighter's pension.

"I have been on dharna for four years, without little food or water. I have no one. I have been suffering for four years here on the street," the 90-year-old says crying with her hands folded.

Gayatri Devi says she was getting money from the government under the 'Samman' pension scheme for freedom fighters from 1997.

"I have these documents to prove I was a freedom fighter. But in 2002 suddenly my pension stopped. I was told that my name appeared in a list of fake freedom fighters. But these allegations are totally false," she says.

CNN-IBN filed an RTI with the Union Home Ministry and found that Gayatri Devi had submitted document declaring her wanted by the then British government which made her eligible for a freedom fighter's pension.

Based on the documents a special team in charge of sanctioning pensions granted Gayatri Devi her due after investigating the case.

She got pension from 1997. But in 2002 because of a media report about some fake freedom fighters, Gayatri Devi's case got caught in a web of red tape. She was declared a fraud and her pension was stopped.

"My health is failing. I have heart problems and high blood pressure. But I don't have the money to get any tests done," she pleads.

"The administration calls me a liar. They say go home old woman. Where is this home they are asking me to go?" she asks the country for whose freedom she fought.

When CNN-IBN first found Gayatri Devi, she was wandering in the emergency ward of RML Hospital in Delhi. She had been brought in complaining of chest pain and breathlessness.

She has been fighting her lonely battle from Jantar Mantar for the past four years. CNN-IBN filed an RTI on her behalf, and now plans to take it to the Bihar State Government, so that she can finally have her case re-investigated.

But meanwhile, Gayatri Devi's health is failing and she needs medical attention. So, if there are any organisations that are able to offer her help, please contact us at editor@ibnlive.com.

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