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Gujarat HC Asks Govt to Pay Pension to Freedom Fighter's Children

Ahmedabad

Pulling up the Centre as well as the Gujarat Government for demanding from a freedom fighter documents proving his association with Mahatma Gandhi's 'Quit India' movement, the Gujarat High Court has directed them to provide pension to his heirs.

Justice Sonia Gokani yesterday directed the State as well as the Union Government to provide within four months the pension of freedom fighter Balvantrai Vyas, who died during the pendency of the case, to his descendants.

Vyas had applied for pension in March 1998 under the 'Samman Pension Scheme', but the Gujarat Government had asked for documents to prove his claim that he was a freedom fighter, which he failed to. After his death, his family members continued with his legal fight for pension.

"An old man cannot be expected to compile documents half a century after the freedom struggle," the High Court order said while setting aside state government's claims that Vyas could not produce the documents through which he could have proved that he had been jailed and associated with the 'Quit India' movement.

"In the present day scenario, it would be unthinkable that a teenager between 13 and 16 years, would choose to fight for the country and go underground by actively participating in the freedom movement," the court order said.

It further added, "The pages of history are full of such valour and this case cannot be said to be so exceptional. Thousands of such young persons had contributed and inclusion of such category in the rules also further vindicates that the makers of the rules and procedure were aware of this reality." 

The High Court has taken the basis of the statement of two freedom fighters associated with Vyas.

"Two freedom fighters, who were entitled to pension, have also certified that Vyas was very active in underground activities between the years 1942 and 1945," the order said.

"They (freedom fighters) would not state incorrect facts in their recommendations for pension as that generation was inculcated the basic lessons of truth and integrity in the public life by the Father of the Nation," it added.

Vyas was born in Dhrangdhra in Surendranagar district in Gujarat in 1930 and participated in the Quit India Movement at the age of 12 in 1942, the petition said.

According to the petition, Vyas remained underground for six months and was jailed in Karachi for 18 months, for which he could not furnish any proof.

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PLACES: Gujarat
SECTION: National
OUTLOOK 30 August, 2014
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