Nearly 40 lakh senior pensioners aged 60 and above, on Saturday called for an indefinite hunger strike from December 4 to protest low payouts from the Employers Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)-95 scheme.
The pensioners have also threatened of a mass suicide in the national capital, if their demands are not met. President of Rashtriya Sangarsh Samiti Ashok Raut said, "It is tough to imagine how lakhs of of pensioners are running their households as they are receiving Rs 2,500 post-retirement as a monthly pension. Around two lakhs of such pensioners have already lost their lives in the past one year. We are not in a state to give more time to think for we don't have much time left with us too. We are not resorting to violent protests, the government should answer what should we do."Mr Raut also asserted, "Leaders of several parties will cut the ribbon on December 7 to inaugurate our mass suicide. It is better for us to die than suffer daily. We tried everything in our capacity to make those deaf ears hear but in vain. We have performed a 'Bhiksha Andolan', mailed 12 lakh postcards to the Prime Minister, shaved our heads in protest outside District Magistrate's offices, sent appeals via DM offices, and even organised a lockdown protest of regional EPFO offices to draw the attention of the administration. We have even stripped our shirts off to mark our protests in front of the offices. We have tried every single way to peaceful protest. We ran out of options for senior citizens like us can't demolish public properties, thus we are forced to take such an extreme step." "In 2014, PM Narendra Modi had promised to increase the pension to Rs 1,000 per month, still nearly 17 lakh pensioners are receiving a monthly pension of less than Rs 1,000. Around 40 lakh pensioners are getting the less than Rs 1,500 per month and the EPFO is misleading them", said the President of Rashtriya Sangarsh Samiti.
He further added that neither they have any political affiliation nor do they wish to propagate this issue further.
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