Unhappy over the One Rank One Pension (OROP) notified by the government last week, a group of military veterans tried to stage a protest march to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday, calling the day a ‘Black Diwali’.
The protesting ex-servicemen, who marched to the Rashtrapati Bhavan were stopped by the Delhi police a few hundred metres away from Raisina Hill. The protestors claim that the Modi government has not kept its promise, and instead notified OROP that would lead to officers retiring from the same rank getting different pensions, defeating the overall purpose of OROP.
According to the OROP package announced by the government, pensions will be equalised every five years only. The ex-servicemen want pensions to be equalised every year, so that everyone retiring from the same rank with same years of service get the same pension.
Also, OROP won’t be available to those who retired prematurely from now onwards.
Meanwhile, former defence minister A.K. Antony attacked the Modi government. ''It is not a Diwali gift. It is a Diwali shock for service personnel by the Modi government,” he said.
“I am not satisfied with government’s new order on OROP. I am very disappointed. This order is a vast dilution of UPA’s order. According to me by issuing this order this government has gone from its solemn commitment to Indian soldiers. This is not one rank one pension; It is one rank five pension,” Mr. Antony said.
Among the key points highlighted by Mr. Antony is the fact that soldiers, who retire voluntarily after minimum required period of service won’t get OROP. He said this will affect government policy to maintain a very young profile for its force. “If we follow the new policy, our armed forces would become one of the oldest in the world,” Mr. Antony said.
“The order issued by the UPA government on 24 April, 2014 itself has clarified the definition of OROP. One rank one pension means those soldiers who retire of same rank, with same length of service will get same pension, irrespective of the date, which they retire. We also included that all future enhancement will be automatically passed on to the ex-service men also. So it was clear, if one retires today or five years back will get the same pension. But the new order is against it,” he said.