Friday, June 12, 2015

Battle Honours for the Battle of OROP

Friday, 12 June 2015

FROM aerial view blog.......

"Readers of this blog, 

I have a confession to make. In the past 3 years of operating this blog, I have been privy to lots of information. I share all information obtained through the RTI Act, 2005 but assimilate information that is factual but for which I have no documents to back me up. What I write in succeeding paragraphs is one such item of information.

I confess letting you all down by not sharing a bit of information which I had dismissed as I was hearing it. Because a year ago, every one believed that ‘achhe din’ were already here after 26th May 2014 and so did I.

A year later, listening to Lt Gen Kadyan (is he the Chairman of the IESM still?) wax eloquent on how the OROP will be honoured because a commitment has been made at the highest level, I am not going to suppress my conscience.

It happened like this.

On 12 July 2014, the Lt Col (retd) B K Sharma, President RDOA called up and said that Lt Col (retd) Satwant Singh, the Secretary RDOA is indisposed and whether it would be possible for me to travel to New Delhi for meeting with the Senior Advocate before the hearing scheduled for 25th July 2014 in the Contempt Petition (Civil) No. 328 of 2013.

I travelled to New Delhi on 22nd July 2014 and I met President, RDOA, and later President, IESL that afternoon at lunch. It was decided at the meeting with President RDOA, that we would meet on the 23rd afternoon in the office of the AOR (advocate on record) to have the Proforma signed for gate passes to the Supreme Court, provide him with any additional inputs based on the RTI disclosures before we departed to meet the Senior Advocate either on the 24th July 2014 afternoon or the morning of 25th July 2014 and then proceed to the Supreme Court for the hearing.

Due to light traffic, I was in the office of the AoR well before the appointed time. There were two gentlemen sitting with the AoR, an elderly and dignified-looking gentleman and Wg Cdr (retd) Tomar, who I knew earlier. I was introduced to the elderly and dignified-looking gentleman, and I was informed that he was an important office-bearer in the BJP’s Ex-Servicemens’ Cell.     

The talk veered around to OROP. After listening in silence and to the few sentences into the discussion of how the Joint Working Group (JWG) had ceased meeting after briefing the Finance-cum-Defence Minister on 12th June 2014,  the elderly gentleman interjected by asking, “Who is the CGDA?”

Before I could give her name (Ms Vandana Srivastav) to him, the elderly and dignified-looking gentleman interrupted and said, “No, I am not asking for the name. The CGDA is an Additional Secretary level officer. She knows that she could be moved out in a couple of seconds, if she does not obey the orders of the Defence-cum-Finance Minister. Why do you think she, the chairperson, is not convening the meeting of the JWG?”

Shocked, I asked “Are you telling me that there is possibility of some one higher than the Defence-cum-Finance Minister has to take the decision to implement OROP?”. The elderly gentleman, stood up and bidding me Jai Hind, said, “Aap bahut senior officer the, aap samajh jaoge ke jab tak orders nahin aayenge, tab tak OROP ka kuch nahin hoga.” The elderly and dignified-looking gentleman took his leave and left before I could mention to him that the PM has committed to implementing OROP from the deck of INS Vikramaditya on 14 Jun 2014.

I held my peace because I expected that the PM would remember the Kargil War was won on 26th July 1999, when the first BJP led NDA Government was at the Centre. And there could be an announcement that OROP implementation orders are issued in memory of those who were martyred. 

When OROP orders did not happen, yet reposing more faith, I held on to the belief that PM Modi would follow up those “mere bhagya mein likha hain” words with a Diwali gift of OROP on Diwali day, 2014, or maybe on Good Governance Day, which is incidentally the birthday of the first BJP PM Atal Behari Vajpayee.

In the interim, I have been the unwilling recipient of forwarded emails of letters written to the President, the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and Finance Minister by persons representing different ESM organisations and after hearing about how OROP is not as simple as the PM thought it was (for over a year!), and incredulous with the OROP still nowhere, all I can say is “How true are the words uttered on 23rd July 2014.”

After 26th July 1999, the then BJP-NDA Government of Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee presented Gallantry awards, and gas agencies and petrol pumps. 

But the true recognition of the service to the Nation in the face of overwhelming odds, the Battle Honours appeared to suffer the same decision difficulty as the OROP with the file doing the maze of bureaucracy, though there were no financial implications.

The Battle Honours file was ultimately approved by then President A P J Abdul Kalam on 25th May 2005, ironically under the UPA-Congress regime ( 

Army battalions/Brigades were given Battle/Theatre honours of Batalik, Dras, Tololing, Tiger Hill, Dah, Mushkoh etc – a year after the BJP-NDA Govt was voted out but six years after the Kargil War ended.  

On 16th Kargil Divas on 26th July 2015, with another BJP Govt at the Centre, more than a year after the UPA Govt was ousted at the ballot boxes, will the ESM and those officers, JCOs and ORs who fought that Kargil War and are now ESM be given Battle Honours for the Battle of the OROP? 

And who will claim the Battle Honours – the Govt, the MoD, the MoF, the CGDA or the panoply of ESM organisations/movements /associations?

Or will history repeat itself as a tragedy with more ESM and widows dying in the hope of acche din of OROP?"

(Source- Aerial View blog) 

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