Sunday, May 31, 2015
‘Denial of One Rank, One Pension is breach of trust... a betrayal’ by Tarique Anwar
May 31, 2015 09:51 IST
New Delhi: In the wake of growing displeasure among ex-servicemen over the delay in implementation of ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated his pre-poll promise and said his government is in “constant” talks with armed forces and trying to arrive at a decision agreeable to all stakeholders concerned.
“No one should have any doubts about OROP's implementation. But there are varied versions about what the definition of OROP should be. Would it be proper for me to take a decision without keeping the armed forces personnel in the loop? So we are trying to arrive at a please-all decision,” Modi told English daily The Tribune in an interview.
A similar statement has been made today by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who said the OROP is “on its way” but refused to specify a date for its implementation. “I cannot give you a specific time for implementation of the OROP as it involves various departments but it is on its way,” he added.
On Thursday, two war veterans – Wing Commander (Retd) K V Bopardikar and Wing Commander (retired) SD Karnik – declined to be felicitated by the Defence minister at an event in Pune in protest against the delay in implementation of OROP scheme. The resentment of the ex-servicemen has gone so deep that they have now decided to sit on hunger strikes and hold rallies despite accepting that boycotts, fasting and dharnas do not suit their status of the most disciplined citizens of the country.
Reacting to Modi’s comments, Major General Satbir Singh (retired), who is spearheading the campaign for the implementation of OROP under the banner of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), asked what the prime minister was doing for the last 12 months. He said he is surprised to know that there are different definitions of the OROP. “There is only one definition of OROP that was given by a Committee of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary constituted by the Manmohan Singh government. The same definition was adopted by Parliament and the President had described it as an urgent need. The same definition was also accepted by the incumbent government. If the prime minister was not clear about it, why did he assure us that the scheme will be implemented if his party comes to power,” he told Firstpost.
He described the non-implementation of the scheme as “breach of trust” and a “betrayal” to 6.45 lakh widows of war heroes, 24 lakh ex-servicemen and 15 lakh serving servicemen. He said a massive protest would be launched soon throughout the country against the “betrayal”. “We will hold a massive protest at Jantar Mantar 14 June and will sit on hunger strike from 15 June. Similar protest will be launched across the country…The Congress and the BJP both promised to implement One Rank, One Pension. Twelve months have been passed since the new government took charge, but the scheme is yet to turn into a reality.
From 9 December to 14 April, we met the Defence Minister four times. In every meeting, he assured that it will be implemented in a week or fortnight”. Asked why the government is not being able to implement OROP despite claiming that it is committed to it, Singh said it is because the “lack of will and determination”.
“PPOS (Pension Pay Orders) are available. All service headquarters and the core group they had formed on 26 February have jointly prepared a government notification. Despite this, they say there is a difference. For me, it is an excuse. If the government is unable to come up with the notification on the ground of ‘differences’, give us PPO of 1 April 2014 and we will prepare a notification for it which will be accepted to everyone in a week. The issue is being delayed because of lack of will and determination.”
Asked if the project is being delayed because of the lack of fund, he said, “Money to the tune of Rs 8,300 crore is already sanctioned. There are 25 lakh retired soldiers and the amount is enough to fulfil the 33-year-old demand.” “All proposals have been sent to the Ministry of Finance but they were returned five times.
Why? We the ex-servicemen supported him and played an important role in bringing the BJP in power. Our serving Chief of Army Staff has recently promised at Jhajjar in Haryana that it will be implemented till April 30. He must have made said it after consulting the government. Now, why is he being embarrassed?” he asked.
A 1971 war veteran, Karnik says, “Our protest is not meant to get monetary profit only. It matters much because of the issue of izzat (honour). We are not getting any support from the government since 1973. All governments are short-changing us. This is bringing down the morale of the armed forces.”
He alleged that the “status of armed services people has been lowered”. “An inspector of police is a Class One officer, whereas, a junior commissioned officer belongs to Class Two. An OSD (Officer on Special Duty) earns more than a major who is supposed to be under him in an ammunition factory or elsewhere. Therefore, the izzat has got dented very badly,” he told Firstpost.
Taking about the reasons behind the delay in the implementation of OROP, he added, “According to my understanding and analysis, our political leaders follow the policy of NATO (not act, talk only) when it comes to paying heed to the demands of the armed forces.”
The Vir Chakra recipient admitted that he did not feel good when he refused to attend the facilitation ceremony. “Yes, I felt bad when I did not attend the function. By not attending, I gave out an insult and there is no doubt about it. But it was a deliberation for One Rank, One Pension. They (the government) did not involve any uniformed man in the deliberations. Our papers were taken but were kept out of deliberations. This led us to the suspicion among us that some hanky-panky is going on. I am more than sure that there are moves to short-change war veterans. Even if they announce OROP, I am sure we will be short-changed.”
General (retired) GD Bakshi said he is also unable to understand the reason behind the non-fulfilment promise of the promise so far made by Modi during his pre-poll speeches. “I fail to understand why so many hurdles are coming in the way of the implementation of OROP even after one year of the new government assumed office,” he told Firstpost.
When asked why there is a delay in the implementation of the OROP, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said, “The Defence Minister and the Finance Minister have discussed the matter. This is not an issue which is pending for a week or two. It has been pending for 33 years. There is an apex court judgement which was pronounced in 2009 but was not implemented by previous government for five years. There was absolutely no movement before our government came to office. There was an election ploy by the Congress party in February 2014 when it made an announcement in this regard. The real work on ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme actually begun only when our government assumed office. This has been going on and it is a matter of time. It is a commitment of our government, which will be fulfilled.”
“It is not a simple issue that can be sorted in a week or two. It is very complex. The Defence Minister has stated very recently that he has made final recommendation, which has been sent to the Finance Ministry. The finance minister has also said that the government is committed to give whatever it takes. There has been a wild estimate about the amount of money required to fund this project. But the government is committed to implementing it at the earliest.”
He said the BJP holds the veterans in great esteem but it disheartens the party and its leadership when its programme is boycotted.
(Source- First post)