OROP: Protesting veterans meet Rajnath

Ex-servicemen stage a protest over the delay in the implementation of ‘One Rank One Pension,’ in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

A group of veterans of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh earlier this week to apprise him of their protest demanding the “rightful implementation” of One Rank One Pension (OROP) and the ongoing case in the Supreme Court over the issue.

“He is new to the defence ministry; so we were keen to brief him at the earliest on our main issue, OROP,” Major General Satbir Singh (retd), Chairman of IESM, told The Hindu. “He listened to us very patiently. He was non-committal as he has to go through the whole correspondence and go through a process. He said he will speak to us again after that,” Maj. Gen. Singh added. The delegation of seven veterans met the Minister on July 1.

Veterans under the IESM banner have been protesting at Jantar Mantar since OROP was notified in November 2015 demanding that anomalies be corrected. They have also filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court.

In the last hearing on May 1, the Supreme Court had directed the Defence Ministry to discuss with all stakeholders and remove all the anomalies, Maj. Gen. Singh said. The next hearing is scheduled for August 6.

“Let the government fix the anomalies and we will withdraw the case and stop the agitation,” Maj. Gen. Singh said, adding that they would also reaccept the 22,000 medals that several veterans had returned in protest. Observing that the veterans had forwarded the Court’s note to then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he said the group had written seven letters to Mr. Singh after he assumed office.

OROP implies uniform pension to personnel based on rank and length of service, and irrespective of the date of retirement. The protesting veterans have highlighted three key anomalies which they want corrected. These are the date of implementation, calculation of pension based on the highest slab and not the average as is being done and revision of pension automatically instead of periodically every five years.

Disability pension

The issue of disability pension was also discussed with the minister, said Maj. Gen. Singh. “The Minister said it was done by Finance Ministry and not by Defence Ministry and said he will look into it.” Other issues discussed pertained to veterans’ family issues and a demand for declaring December 16, which marks the end of the Liberation War of Bangladesh, as Victory Day, he added.

Separately, the Disabled War Veterans (India), an organisation of war disabled and battle casualties wrote a letter to the Army on Thursday over the issue of taxing disability pension and the Army’s stand on the issue. “Being at the forefront of issues related to the war disabled, we must put it on record that sensitivity must be displayed towards genuinely disabled with non-operational disabilities also,” the group wrote.

Last month, the Finance Ministry issued a notification which said that tax exemption would be available only to armed forces personnel who have been invalidated from service on account of bodily disability attributable to or aggravated by such service, and not to personnel who have been retired on superannuation or otherwise.

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Printable version | Jul 25, 2021 8:48:10 PM |

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