Calcutta, Jan. 19: The Mamata Banerjee government today decided to discontinue a pension scheme for “political sufferers”, saying it was being used to rehabilitate supporters of parties.
A proposal in this regard was approved by the cabinet today.
A senior government official said political sufferers were included in the scheme, which was introduced to provide financial assistance to freedom fighters.
“The original scheme was introduced soon after Independence to give financial assistance to freedom fighters. The scheme was funded by the state government. In 1977, the then Left Front government included political sufferers in the scheme,” the official said.
Finance minister Amit Mitra said today: “We will introduce a new scheme (only) for the freedom fighters. But political sufferers will not get pension from the state exchequer.”
A minister in the Mamata Banerjee cabinet said the government had decided against paying pension to political sufferers as the CPM had included names of their supporters in the list during Left rule.
“Political sufferers were included in the scheme that was meant for freedom fighters. It was done with a political intention and that’s the reason it is being discontinued. We will give pension to the freedom fighters by introducing a new scheme exclusively for them,” Mitra said.
According to a senior finance department official, 8,200-odd people or dependants were getting pension under the scheme. A beneficiary gets Rs 3,250 a month under the scheme.
The government spends around Rs 2.7 crore a month under the scheme.
“There are 4,000-odd freedom fighters in the list of beneficiaries. The rest are political sufferers. Victims of the 1959 food movement and the Naxalite movement in the 1970s were included in the list of political sufferers. Dependants of some victims of Maoist attacks in Jungle Mahal were also included,” the official said.
Soon after the change of guard, Mamata Banerjee had said the scheme should be discontinued.