Ex-servicemen have decided to hold a huge rally in Bihar, where assembly polls are likely to be held in September, in a bid to mount pressure on the Modi government for implementing the ‘One Rank One Pension’ policy.
The decision came even as groups of ex-servicemen went on a relay hunger strike in about 20 cities across the country.
“We will hold our next maha sangram rally in Bihar. We will continue our protest till our legitimate and promised due of OROP is met,” Col Anil Kaul (Retd), media advisor to Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), said.
Veterans also believe they have sizeable sway in Punjab, which is likely to see polls in 2-17.
Asked if the government has ditched them, IESM Chairman Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd) said, “The question is about honoring the assurances and so far those have been not implemented on the ground. That’s why we feel the government has not lived up to what they promised us.”
In the national capital, a group of 55 ex-servicemen from Jalandhar district sat on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, where hundreds of retired defence personnel had yesterday held a protest and sought President Pranab Mukherjee’s intervention on their behalf.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has given an assurance that the “promises” made would be kept and the retired servicemen should be “patient”.
“The hunger strike has begun today in various cities. This will go on indefinitely till our dues are cleared,” said Col (retd) Anil Kaul, media adviser to Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM).
The Modi government has said that it is committed to OROP, introducing which was one of its key poll promises. But it has been unable to implement it till now.
In his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio talk, Modi had assured ex-servicemen that his government would soon resolve the OROP issue, but that has not happened, they lamented.
Even though the government has said it is committed to implementing OROP, there has been no official word on why the scheme is getting delayed.
Defence ministry sources said that the OROP file is with the Finance Ministry for a final budgetary approval.
Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired.
So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.