New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) Scores of ex-servicemen on Monday launched an indefinite relay hunger strike here over the delay in implementing the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme for them and threatened to intensify their agitation.
Raising slogans like “One Rank, One Pension”, “No delay, no dilution” and “Sainik ekta zindabad”, the former soldiers and officers of the Indian armed forces launched the hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, within the shouting distance of Parliament House.
Ex-servicemen in batches of 50-55 will sit on a 24-hour hunger strike every day till the government announces a specific date for implementing the OROP scheme.
“We won’t budge until the government gives us a date for implementing ‘One Rank, One Pension’,” Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd.), president of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement which is spearheading the protest, told IANS.
Col. Anil Kaul (retd.), media adviser of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said protests were on in many cities across the country.
“The hunger strike has begun today (Monday) in various cities. This will go on indefinitely till we get a definitive response from the government,” he said.
Sources from the defence ministry, meanwhile, said the file on OROP was with the finance ministry, as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar once again on Sunday night urged the veterans to be patient.
Speaking at a conference in Jaipur on Sunday, the defence minister said “promises” made will be kept and that they should be “patient”.
The nationwide agitation was launched on Sunday by retired servicemen.
Protesting at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, the veterans signed a petition in blood, demanding fast implementation of the scheme which will ensure same pension for the same rank irrespective of the date of retiring.
The petition was sent to President Pranab Mukherjee’s office.
With the OROP, defence personnel who retired in the past would be able to draw the same pension as officers and soldiers of the same rank retiring now.
OROP is expected to benefit 25 lakh ex-servicemen and widows of defence personnel.