Friday, August 14, 2015
Ex-Servicemen Demanding One Rank One Pension Resist Eviction
NEW DELHI: Army veterans were pushed around at Delhi's famous Jantar Mantar -- the massive and centuries-old sundial which is also the designated spot for protests -- as city officials tried to clear all demonstrators from the heart of the capital ahead of Independence Day for security reasons.
Former servicemen are resisting moving out; for a group of 50, this has been their base camp for two months to call attention to the issue of One Rank One Pension, or OROP. The demonstrators have been living in two tents on a relay hunger strike. One of the tents have been removed.
"We were told yesterday to remove all permanent structures from Jantar Mantar. While the reason right now is security, from now on, no permanent structure will be allowed at Jantar Mantar even for protests," said NDMC Deputy Director R K Chabra.
Ahead of tomorrow's commemoration of Independence Day, a group of retired military chiefs wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, asking him to "urgently intervene" in the OROP controversy, warning that denying it will "severely damage the officer-jawan relationship".
Alleging lack of political will, the open letter urges the President to intervene as the Supreme Commander of the forces.
"Soldiers, like flags and anthems, are emblematic of a nation's pride and honor. The very fact that the nation's military veterans have had to take resort to agitational methods and that the government could tolerate their denigration or humiliation has come as a rude shock to all of us, " says the letter, signed by former army chief General SF Rodrigues, and former navy chiefs, Admirals L Ramdas, Arun Prakash and Sureesh Mehta.
In his Independence Day speech from the historic Red Fort tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to announce the big step, which will grant pension parity to retired armed forces with officers and jawans of the same rank who are retiring now.
Currently, their pension is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time they retire. A Major General who retired in 1996 would draw less pension than his junior who retired years later.
The implementation of OROP will cost the government an estimated Rs.
8,300 crore annually.