A senior citizen couple claiming to be RSS volunteers has threatened to set themselves on fire in front of the Hedgewar Smruti Mandir here in Maharashtra if their request for pension for those jailed under the now-repealed Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during an Emergency is not accepted by the Central government by October 15.
The Hedgewar Smruti Mandir is a memorial dedicated to RSS founder K. B. Hedgewar and second sarsanghchalak or chief M. S. Golwalkar located in the Reshimbaug area.
Avdhoot Joshi (66) and his wife Mangla Joshi (62) on Sunday visited the Smruti Mandir to observe a symbolic hunger strike demanding ' Sanman Nidhi' (pension) for swyamsevaks and others who were jailed under the MISA during Emergency in 1975-77. The controversial law was repealed in 1977.
The Joshis were evicted from the spot by the police after taking their memorandum and were let off.
Joshi, a resident of Bhilai, told PTI that he and his father were lodged in Raipur jail for 15 months during the Emergency imposed by then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
"The then sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras had appealed for satyagraha across the country against the imposition of Emergency. Many swayamsevaks on his appeal had observed satyagraha, and subsequently, we were jailed," claimed Joshi.
Joshi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi who himself is a swayamsevak and he should not forget the sacrifices made by the people jailed under the MISA.
"We want to request the prime minister through RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat that the government should respect all those who were jailed under MISA by giving them 'sanman nidhi' (pension)," he said, adding that this issue had been raised in Parliament many times but nothing came out of it.
Joshi said he had met social activist Anna Hazare and Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide who supported the pension demand.
"I have written a letter to Mohanji Bhagwat stating that if the government does not start 'sanman nidhi' scheme for those jailed under MISA during Emergency then I, along with my wife, will perform 'atmadah' at the Hedgewar Smruti Mandir on October 15," he said.
When contacted, Nagpur Mahanagar sanghchalak Rajesh Loya told PTI: "As far as the RSS is concerned, such (pension) concept is never there. It is up to the government if it wants to give such a pension. The Sangh has nothing to do with this demand. They should approach government".