Ex-servicemen may skip president’s function on September 22

New Delhi (IANS) To register their annoyance over the shortcomings in ‘one rank one pension’ scheme, the ex-servicemen are likely to skip a function to be hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee on September 22 to felicitate the 1965 war heroes.

Wing Commander Vinod Nebb (retd.), who is protesting at Jantar Mantar with other veterans, told IANS that he has written a regret letter to the President for not attending the High Tea on Tuesday.

“I am with the protesting ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar. I echo the voice and sentiments of thousands like me. I expect that the other ex-servicemen would also not join the celebration,” he said.

Nebb said the one rank one pension’s (OROP) offer, as approved by the central government, had so many riders that they changed the actual spirit of the scheme.

In the letter, Nebb said: “I would hope it will give you an opportunity to gauge the morale of ex-servicemen like us, as our supreme commander, and at the very least acknowledge the state of our pride and morale that has steadily been crippled by numerous government and its bureaucratic over the last 40 years.”

“Our prime minister very categorically made the promise of OROP and whilst he had made some change, it still isn’t OROP. And, even that change was not granted willingly, we had to fight for it.”

“I look towards you as our Supreme Commander and leader of the armed forces to ask why are you silent? Why would you invite me to an event, which to us, veterans, is a symbolic of our blood, sweat and dignity and play to the government’s ‘show’ of respect to us and our achievement?” he asked.

United Ex-Servicemen Front (UFESM) spokesperson Col. Anil Kaul (retd.) on Thursday appealed to former service chiefs not to participate in 1965 war commemoration functions.

The protesting ex-servicemen, however, are planning programmes to honour war veterans among them and war widows of 1965 India-Pakistan war.

As the government announced a scheme for providing OROP, the army veterans said the scheme would not provide one rank one pension (OROP) as it has several discrepancies.

The veterans demanded the base year for the OROP should be financial year 2013-14, in place of 2013 announced by the central government. They want date of implementation to be April 2014, instead of July 2014 as announced by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

While veterans want rationalisation of pensions every year, the government has provided for review only every five years.

Veterans also want the one-man judicial commission to be replaced with a five-member committee with their representation.

Another issue is fixation of pension as per the highest pension for the rank, against the government’s announcement of it being average of highest and lowest pensions, with protection to those with higher pension.

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