Smiles and placards on Day 1,135

Ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar welcomed the SC judgment saying, “It is a big win for democracy.”

Ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar welcomed the SC judgment saying, “It is a big win for democracy.”   | Photo Credit: 23DEL_OROP PROTEST

Ex-servicemen have been protesting for the last 3 years for OROP implementation

The Jantar Mantar protest street was visibly vacant on Monday but at the far end, near pole number 8, a group of 15 people sat on the pavement holding a placard that read ‘One Rank One Pension at Jantar Mantar, Day 1,135’.

Ex-servicemen who have been protesting for over three years demanding implementation of OROP scheme welcomed the judgment with bright smiles and said, “The voice of people has been heard. It is a big win for democracy of India.”

Clad in a crisp blue shirt and red turban, Major General (retd) Satbir Singh, who has been heading the protests, recalled how the protesters, including him, were “manhandled and assaulted” on October 30 last year in the wake of the National Greet Tribunal order banning protests at the site.

“We have always honoured the law. As soon as the police issues its guidelines, we will be back with our tent and mics,” Major General (retd) Singh said.

Never stopped coming

However, protesters never stopped coming at Jantar Mantar. Major (retd) Ajmer Singh’s wife Sudesh Goyat, who is fondly called ‘Iron Lady’, said they would use to come at the protest site daily.

“We used to come in a smaller group of about 20 people as opposed to hundreds earlier, stay for two hours, get a picture clicked to be uploaded on our Facebook page, and leave,” she said, adding that they did not skip coming to the site even on festivals also.

When questioned if they were asked by the police personnel to leave, Major General (retd) Singh said that they used to sit peacefully like any other individual sitting around. “For a few days, they came and forced us to leave but eventually, they understood and let us be,” he said.

Recalling the last nine months, Havildar (retd) Shivkumar Rana said that he used to leave his house from Badarpur border around 6 a.m. and reach the site by 7.30 a.m. “I used to clean the pavement every day for everyone to sit. This is like a place of worship for us. We perform puja at pole number 8 every day,” he said. The tent of OROP protesters was installed near pole number 8.

Major General (retd) Singh said that their protest completed three years on June 15 and they held a small gathering to mark the event.

The protesters said that they never considered going to Ramlila Maidan which was proposed as the alternative protest site because they wanted to be closer to “place of power”. Also, they say they are emotionally attached to the place, they say.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said that they will formulate a way to facilitate the protests. “According to the Supreme Court order, the guidelines will be drafted on how to facilitate the protests,” he said.

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 11:09:15 PM |

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