OROP – Ex-Servicemen to Intensify Stir Against the Government…
As the agitation by ex-servicemen demanding the implementation of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme continued for the 31st day here on Tuesday, the protesting veterans said they would intensify their stir after a week.
“We decided to scale up the agitation from tomorrow (Wednesday), but we will wait for another seven days…if the government does not keep its promise we will launch agitation across the country,” United Front of Ex-Servicemen Morcha (UFESM) spokesperson Col. Anil Kaul (retd) said at a press conference here. The protest would be taken to poll-bound states if the central government did not keep its promise of implementing the OROP, Kaul said.
“In August, we will launch an agitation in Bihar and hold a ‘Maha Sangram Rally’ in Patna,” Kaul said. He said their agitation would be intensified next in Punjab. The ex-servicemen assured that the common man would not be affected by their ongoing agitation. The Morcha leaders also said they would continue to boycott all government functions in protest against the delay in grant of OROP by the government.
Lt. Gen. Balbir Singh (retd.) questioned the delay in acceptance of their demand by the NDA government headed by Narendra Modi.
“The government said money is no problem…so financial problems are gone…as far as administrative problems are concerned, all those who are getting pension are already on the rolls. There is no legal hassle either…,” he said.
“If they (government) are saying other government employees will also demand similar pension structure, our point is: The working conditions of a soldier are different from anyone else…the life expectancy of soldiers is less than those in the civilian jobs because of the working conditions; and then, they are not taken care of post- retirement,” he said.
Maj. Gen Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian ex-Servicemen Movement, meanwhile clarified that there cannot be OROP for major general rank officers only.
“An impression in relation to a case going on in the Supreme Court is that OROP will be given only to major general-ranked officers. All 254 major general-ranked officers, who are signatories in the case, have made it clear that they will not take OROP unless it is for all (ex-servicemen),” said Singh.
Ex-servicemen are demanding that the government give them a definite date for implementation of the OROP. They have also demanded that the nature of the scheme should not be changed. Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the pay commission recommendations in force at the time of their retirement. This leads to difference in pensions of officers of the same rank who retire on different dates.
The protesting veterans launched an agitation on June 14, and have been sitting on a relay hunger strike since June 15 at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital.