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No forgery, says Union minister in MISA pension row

BHOPAL: BJP’s Dalit leader and Union minister for social justice Thavar Chand Gehlot finds himself embroiled in a MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) detainees’ honorarium pension controversy.

A local RTI activist has filed a complaint at Madhavnagar police station in Ujjain, alleging that Gehlot used fake documents to make himself eligible for the Rs 25,000-per-month honorarium for MISA detainees. Speaking to TOI, Gehlot denied the charge, saying: “I have not committed any fraud. The complainant does not know the provisions under which MISA detainees get pension benefit. This is a conspiracy to defame me.”

MISA was a draconian law passed in 1971, giving law enforcement agencies sweeping powers. This was used extensively by the Indira Gandhi government during Emergency to arrest political opponents and activists. The Madhya Pradesh state government pays an honorarium of Rs 25,000 a month to MISA detainees. Gehlot qualified for it last month. The complainant claims that only those who spent 30 days in prison under MISA qualify for the pension while Gehlot spent 13 days at Bhairavgarh Central Jail from December 23, 1975, to January 6, 1976.

“It is true I was jailed for 13 days under MISA. But I was in prison for a longer period, exceeding the 30-day criteria,” Gehlot said. “The state government’s provisions’ for MISA honorarium provides that those jailed for political and social agitations during Emergency also qualify. I was leading an agitation in Nagda on November 14, 1975, when I was arrested. I was in the Bhairavgarh prison from that day till January 6, 1976. There is no forgery involved. A committee of four members, including minister in-charge Bhupendra Singh, the district collector, superintendent of police and jail superintendent jointly review applications and take the final decision on honorarium beneficiaries,” he added.

But why did Gehlot waited till this year to apply for the MISA honorarium? “In 2014-15, the MISA detainees’ honorarium was reviewed to see if anyone eligible had missed out. About 27 or 28 fresh applications were submitted, which were scrutinised and the state cabinet gave its nod in February.” The honorarium for the new pensioners became effective from the new fiscal.

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