New Delhi(PTI): Deadlock over 'One rank One Pension' (OROP) persisted on Thursday with agitating ex-servicemen…
Even as news did the rounds that the central government was ready with a draft for the long pending ‘one rank one pension’ scheme for armed forces veterans, and would announce it within two days, the ex-servicemen leading the protest remained unconvinced. So much so that some say they have many things planned for the protest, one being a massive rally to be held on 12 September to galvanise support across the country.
The veterans who have been involved in talks and negotiations with government representatives over the past 82 days were highly sceptical that the Centre would give them what they deserve. Speaking to dna, Major General (retd.) Satbir Singh, chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said that they had rejected the last draft they had been privy to. The biggest bone of discontent was the government’s proposal to revise the pension every five years. Singh said that would go against the definition of OROP, as it would become ‘one rank five pension”.
There were other hiccups too, as Singh detailed. “They want to implement the scheme from July1 , 2014, instead of 1 April, 2014. That means changing the base year to 2014-2015, from 2013-2014.”
However, this is a concession the veterans are willing to make. The veterans have said for a while now that they will accept certain compromises, even though they shouldn’t have to.
“What we want is an equalisation of pension. We should get the pension of a specific year on July1 of that year, the same with the next year. There is no set increment,” explains Major General Singh. “However, we’re even ready now for equalisation after two years, as long as no senior officer draws a lesser pension than his junior. We will not accept equalisation after five years.”
He added that they had requested to meet Prime Minister Modi five times, but to no avail.
The mood at the protest remained as determined as ever, meanwhile. The ex-servicemen on a fast unto death, were undeterred, said some of the officers present, recounting how Havaldar Major Singh, who collapsed and had to be forcibly sent to the hospital, refused even a saline drip so as not to break his fast.
The BJP-led centre also came under pressure from another quarter these past few days. It’s ideological parent body the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, told the government to resolve the OROP row, during the coordination meeting with top BJP leaders.