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Man Dies in Queue to Submit Documents for Old Age Pension, Inquiry Ordered

Anees Zargar |
Victim identified as 62-year-old Sonaullah Bhat of Malangam village of the North Kashmir district; Several leaders call for ‘simplification’ in document submission.
Srinagar: Women wait in a queue to register themselves for a government pension scheme, on a cold winter day, in Srinagar, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022.

Srinagar: Women wait in a queue to register themselves for a government pension scheme, on a cold winter day, in Srinagar, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: The death of an elderly man, who passed away on Tuesday, whilst he was waiting in a queue to submit his documents for the old age pension in the Bandipora area has drawn flak, with many people demanding compensation for the victim's family. 

The victim was identified as 62-year-old Sonaullah Bhat of the far-flung Malangam village of the North Kashmir district. The hospital authorities said that Bhat had died of a cardiac arrest and was received dead at around 10:00 am in the hospital's emergency room. 

Many in Jammu and Kashmir expressed concern over Bhat’s death and demanded that the process of submission of documents be ‘simplified’ as many beneficiaries claimed inconvenience since it was announced.  

Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M) leader Mohamad Yousuf Tarigami expressed dismay over hardships being faced by the disabled, widows, divorcees, old age pensioners, members of the transgender community and others from the marginalised communities.  

“The beneficiaries, who are old-aged including the disabled are being made to sit in large queues for hours in subzero temperatures outside concerned offices which led to the unfortunate death of this poor elderly person,” Tarigami said in a statement. 

He also termed the pension as a “meagre” amount received by the beneficiaries through the Social Welfare Department and demanded immediate relief for the victim’s family.

Prominent social activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat termed the death a reflection of the failure of the authorities to streamline the verification process. 

“Death of Sonaullah Bhat in Social Welfare Office Bandipora makes it clear that (the) government has failed to streamline the verification process for Old Age Pension. The deceased should be compensated by Government,” he tweeted. 

The district administration in Bandipora called for an inquiry into the death of Bhat, however, clarified that the deceased was not required to visit the office of Tehsil Social Welfare Officer Bandipora to submit the hardcopy nor was he called to visit the Common Services Centre (CSC). 

Adnan Ashraf Mir of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) expressing shock over the death lashed out at the administration for being “insensitive” towards the elderly. 

“Despite numerous pleas to simplify the registration process, the admin is unmoved and utterly insensitive to the struggle of old age pensioners. Every morning they wake up and take a pledge to do everything possible to degrade and humiliate the people of J&K. Being anti-people is a badge this administration wears with so much pride and honour. What a shame,” Mir said in a press statement.  

Stating that there is a “lot of resentment” amongst people in this regard, Jammu Kashmir Apni Party Vice-President Usman Majid demanded an immediate withdrawal of the new instructions. 

“The government must simplify the existing procedure and enlist door-to-door beneficiaries and enhance the existing scale to Rs 5000 per month,” Majid said in a press statement whilst demanding relief for the deceased. 

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