Ex-servicemen pay homage to 1965 martyrs

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Hundreds of ex-servicemen participated in a candle light march at India Gate here to pay homage to the martyrs of the 1965 India-Pakistan war.

The march started from Jantar Mantar in central Delhi where the veterans have been agitating for immediate implementation of the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme. Sunday was the 70th day of the protest.

The gathering at Jantar Mantar swelled with family members of the veterans joining the march to India Gate to pay respects to the martyrs of the 1965 war.

“Candle light march which we have taken this evening from Jantar Mantar to India Gate was to pay homage to the martyrs of our colleagues from 1965 operations,” Col. Anil Kaul (retd.), spokesperson for the Indian Ex-Servicemen Front, told IANS.

He said veterans of the armed forces have decided to hold their own remembrance ceremony, boycotting the functions to be organised by the government on August 28.

Kaul said the march was also linked to “some extent” with the OROP issue as veterans of the war as well as the widows of the martyrs also participated in it.

Earlier in the day, Mrinalini Singh, daughter of Minister of State for External Affairs and former army chief V.K. Singh joined the agitation, demanding a speedy resolution to the long-standing issue.

“I am here to support the cause of ex-servicemen because I too am an ex-serviceman’s daughter. I feel that the OROP should be implemented as soon as possible.

“Even my grandfather was a soldier, and may be my son would also become one. I hope the government will soon heed to this demand. It’s long overdue. I did take up the issue with my father. He has written a letter to the prime minister,” she said at the Jantar Mantar protest site.

The ex-servicemen have been protesting since June demanding that there should be no change in the definition of OROP, the date of implementation should remain April 1, 2014, and the base year must remain 2013-14.

Sunday was the seventh day of the indefinite hunger strike by retired Colonel Pushpender Singh and former Havildar Major Singh, and the sixth day for retired Havildar Ashok Chauhan.

On Saturday, 80 widows from Haryana also joined the relay fast.

The ex-servicemen are hoping to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and have sought help from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

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