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OROP: Army Chief meets ex-servicemen

In an attempt to sort out differences on the modalities of implementing the one-rank one-pension (OROP) scheme, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh met ex-servicemen representatives late on Tuesday. However, the talks remained inconclusive and the veterans have decided to continue their protests.

The meeting assumes significance as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and discussed the issue which has been delayed due to “technical difficulties.” Mr. Parrikar is also expected to meet the veterans soon and a meeting of the latter with Mr. Modi is also on the cards.

The developments also came on a day when the deadline of August 25 set by the ex-servicemen movement ended. The veterans have refused any dilution in the agreed definition of uniform pension based on duration and length of service irrespective of the date of retirement as recommended by the Bhagat Singh Koshiyari Committee in 2011. While the government has pegged the cost of implementing OROP at Rs. 8,300 crore, finance officials expressed reservations as it would sharply raise the annual pension bill.

Admitted to hospital

Meanwhile, a second ex-serviceman on indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, Havildar (retd.) Ashok Chauhan, was admitted to the Army’s Research & Referral (R&R) hospital on Tuesday. However, Hav. (retd.) Major Singh, who was advised to get himself admitted, has so far refused to leave the venue.

“Hav Major Singh refuses evacuation; Hav Chauhan was evacuated due to muscle atrophy setting in. Replacements take over,” said Colonel (retd) Anil Kaul from the United Ex-Servicemen Movement.

Col (retd.) Pushpender Singh was on Monday admitted to R&R hospital after the doctor who examined him observed elevated ketone levels. He is stable now but has refused to break his fast, Col. Kaul said.

Meanwhile, two more veterans, Maj (retd.) Tyar Chand and Nayak (retd.) Uday Singh, joined the indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar. Havildar (retd.) Sahib Singh replaced Col. Singh on Monday. With this, there are six veterans on indefinite fast now.

Ex-servicemen began a relay hunger strike on June 15 demanding early implementation of OROP as promised by the government. After no announcement was made by Mr. Modi on August 15, two veterans began indefinite fast and a third one joined them two days later. After a meeting last week between Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, and representatives from the movement, ex-servicemen agreed to hold their indefinite fast and give time till August 25. But the three veterans had refused to call of their fast.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 10:13:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/orop-army-chief-meets-exservicemen/article7579881.ece

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