A 73-year-old musician here resorted to begging in the collectorate premises as a protest against an official demanding bribe to release his Rs 1,000 old-age pension. Upset with the village administrative officer (VAO) of Goundamapatti demanding a bribe K Muthaiya sought alms.The senior nadhaswaram player is eligible for the pension under the government’s old-age pension scheme for such artistes.

Nine villagers belonging to Goundampatti of Peraiyur taluk in Madurai district accompanied Muthaiya in protesting against the VAO.

Muthaiya, who used to be a nadhaswaram artist, alleged that Goundampatti VAO A Manjula sought a bribe of Rs 2000 to release the monetary assistance of Rs 1,000 meant for artistes and disbursed by the Tamil development department.

“Strict action must be taken against such officials and government authorities harassing those entitled to the government assistance, in this case the underprivileged rural folk artistes,“ he told TOI.

The Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram that comes under the Tamil development department recommends the names of artistes who are eligible to avail the pension.“The pension scheme for aged artists was launched to honour them for their service to society,“ said Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram former member-secretary poet Ilaya Bharathi.

Muthaiya demanded that the government also ensure that there are no such hurdles to those above 60 years and availing the regular pension disbursed by the government under the old-age pension scheme. “Village officers must learn to treat senior citizens with humaneness,“ said Muthaiya.

More than 8000 artists in Tamil Nadu benefit from the monthly pension scheme that was raised from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 during the previous DMK regime.