At long last, V.K. Govinda Pillai will be a freedom fighter in the State’s official records.
Mr. Pillai, 87, had refused to apply for pension when the government began the system of pension for freedom fighters, taking a stance that he had not fought the British or participated in the liberation struggle later with an eye on pecuniary benefits. However, as age caught up with him, Mr. Pillai found life a tougher challenge than the freedom struggle, and soon was left alone to fight it out. That was when he decided to apply for a pension to keep him afloat.
However, he found it was not an easy task. Mr. Pillai, who had participated in the Veli Struggle along with Ulloor Gopi and Mannanthala Karunakaran and who still carries the scars and pains of the brutal treatment from the police, did not have adequate documents to prove that he was indeed a freedom fighter.
His application was rejected by the district administration and he had to resort to a small protest in order to get the authorities to change their mind. A letter from co-fighter Mannanthala Karunakaran too made little difference.
Finally, the elderly man’s struggle for a pension was brought to the notice of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who issued orders asking for relaxations in pension rules for Mr. Pillai. On Friday, Mr. Pillai was summoned to Mr. Chandy’s office, where the order granting the State’s freedom fighters’ pension was handed over to him.