Not far from where Sub Ram Kishen Grewal (retd.) consumed poison to protest alleged discrimination by the government against ex-servicemen, a group of retired military men have gathered, after a gap of six months, to re-start their protest at Jantar Mantar, alleging that the government has not implemented unconditional One Rank One Pension (OROP).
Meanwhile, Defence sources said that highest priority has been accorded to resolving issues arising in its implementation.
One of them, Havildar Bal Singh, retired in 1986 from 2 Rajout regiment. “What the government has not done is not right. It has not given what it promised. If they give what is ours we wouldn’t have been here,” he told The Hindu on Wednesday.
Another veteran, Sepoy Lakhpal Singh Hooda who hails from Kiloi village in Rohtak district of Haryana had left service in 1984 on account of disability. He now works as a security guard and has been fighting a case in the Supreme Court as his disability status was lowered. “Jawans get barely any benefit out of this. The condition of other ranks has to be addressed by the government,” he said sitting at Janar Mantar.
Veteran groups had called off protests on April 29 following assurances from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar that their concerns would be addressed.Panel submits report
The one-man judicial committee headed by Justice L Narasimha Reddy, retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court, set up to look into implementation issues had submitted its report to the government early last week. Officials said that the report is being studied and action would be taken once done.
However, the veterans questioned why the government has not come out with the committee’s recommendations. “Justice Reddy has submitted the report on Oct.25, then why is it kept confidential? It is not about operations details. It is about the welfare of soldiers. Let them put it out,” said Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd.), Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM).
The OROP implies uniform pension to personnel based on rank and length of service.
The major demands of the veterans are equalisation of pension annually and not five years, personnel opting for Pre-Mature Retirement (PMR) should also be eligible for the OROP, implementation from April 2014 and not July 2014, take the highest pay scale of 2013 for revising pension and not the average of the maximum and minimum as the intended by the government and not to link the OROP with the Seventh Pay Commission.
The Defence officials said that as on Sept. 15, Rs.5,507 crore had been disbursed to about 20 lakh veterans under the OROP in two instalments. Financial implication of implementing it from July 1, 2014 to December 31, 2015 would approximately be Rs.10,925 crore and Rs.7,488 crore would be the annual recurring expenditure.