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New Delhi: The protesting ex-servicemen will go ahead with their proposed ‘Sainik Ekta’ rally on Saturday to press for “honest and truthful justice” as they rejected the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme announced by the government even as some groups disassociated itself from the event.
“The rally will take place at Jantar Mantar on Saturday morning. We have raised seven issues and if the government accepts it or gives us concrete assurance on paper, we are ready to pack up and leave,” Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement told reporters here.
He also rejected charges of financial irregularity as “baseless” and said that every single penny is accounted for.
“We have all record and receipts. A proper audit will be carried out. We reject such insinuation against us,” he said. Various ex-servicemen groups have come under the common banner of United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement (UFESM) and have been leading a series of protest across the country for the last nearly three months demanding implementation of OROP.
However, cracks appeared in the front this week, with various factions leveling allegations against each other.
While a section of the veterans are against holding of the rally on Saturday, others feel that they have been let down by the government which had announced OROP on Saturday last.
On Wednesday, Lt Gen (Retd) Balbir Singh, a key member of the front that was formed to hold agitation demanding OROP, announced the exit of his group Indian Ex-Services League citing lack of cohesiveness and continuity of protests.
Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh and others have rejected the government’s version of OROP and have now put forward seven points of dissent.
“The government has created avoidable confusion by including VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) in their announcement as it does not exist in the defence forces.
However, those who have taken pre-mature retirement must come under OROP,” Satbir said. The veterans have also objected to the government taking calender year 2013 instead of financial year 2013-14 for fixing the base.
“The Defence Minister had earlier assured that the pensions would be taken from the top of the pay scales whereas now the government seems to have gone to an unknown concept,” he said.
The ex-servicemen are also opposed to formation of one-man judicial commission and demanded that it should comprise three ex-servicemen, one serving officer and a bureaucrat. Also, the deadline for the commission to come out with a report on the implementation of the OROP should be one month instead of the six as proposed by the government.
The protesting veterans have also demanded that the OROP should be independent of the Central Pay Commission and the concept should be in perpetuity.
Rejecting government’s proposal for pension revision every five years, Satbir said, “We had agreed to even two years but now we seek our original demand of revision every year”.
He also rejected that cracks have appeared in the veterans community saying “four people leaving UFESM does not mean anything”.