Patna, Oct 27: Bihar has the highest number of pensioner freedom fighters in the country, a union Home Ministry report revealed.
The recently released report said a total of 24,870 freedom fighters in the state were receiving pension for the past several years and the number was the highest compared to those receiving the same in any other state.
However, the all India figure of such beneficiaries stood at 1,24,870 till January this year, the report said.
After Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh came second and third respectively in terms of the number of pension beneficiaries list with 22,484 and 17,990 freedom fighters and their dependents getting the financial assistance at the fag end of their life.
The scheme, first introduced in 1972 under 'Swatantrata Senani Pension Yojna', entitled Rs 200 for each freedom fighter as monthly pension. Later the amount gradually increased to more than 10,000 per month.
Another scheme was launched by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration during the same year under which pension was given only to political prisoners.
In August 1980 the freedom fighter pension rule was relaxed further making their dependants eligible for the benefits in the event of the death of the 'heroes of the freedom struggle', the report said adding the Centre had allocated Rs 440 crores for the purpose during the current financial year.
However, interestingly not a single person in Arunachal Pradesh, Lakshadweep and Sikkim was presently getting any benefit under the scheme, while there were only three beneficiaries in Andaman and Nicobar island.
A committee headed by union minister of state for Home had recently been constituted to look into the grievances of freedom fighters.
Besides pension, the freedom fighters, in recognition of their rich contribution in the freedom struggle, were given free Railway travel coupons, telephone facilities at subsidised rates and facilities for free medicare at various government hospitals across the country.