Government doesn’t intend to implement OROP: Ex-servicemen

New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) As another round of parleys on OROP failed to break the logjam, ex-servicemen on Friday said the NDA government did not intend to implement the scheme.

“The government does not intend to implement OROP,” retired Major General Satbir Singh, chairman of the United Forum of Ex-Servicemen, told his protesting colleagues.

He also said that some people in the central government were making the One Rank One Pension issue a difficult one.

Satbir Singh said talks met a dead end as the government did not agree to budge from its position on revising pensions every five years.

Initially, the government said pensions would be revised every 10 years, and the veterans pressed for a revision every two years. The defence force retirees also wanted an annual increment of three percent.

However, when the representatives of the ex-servicemen, including Maj. Gen. Singh, went for a scheduled meeting, Nripendra Misra, the principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, did not meet them on Thursday evening.

“We were in army chief General Dalbir Singh’s office. Despite his repeated calls, we got to know that the principal secretary was busy with the prime minister.

“However, a message was sent through a joint secretary that the revision in pensions will be done only after five years. We refused to compromise,” said the officer.

He said that a day earlier, talks moved positively and they were hopeful of some result. However, the government’s stand disappointed them.

“We are soldiers, not shopkeepers,” he said, blaming the bureaucrats for the impasse.

“Our fight is not against the government but this injustice. People in the government are making the OROP issue difficult. May god give them good sense,” Satbir Singh said in his address at the protest site here.

“The first proposal the government came out with did not pertain to OROP and we rejected it.

“On the second day, the talks proceeded positively, and we thought a breakthrough can be reached.”

A point of contention between the government and the ex-servicement is the date of implementation of the OROP.

While veterans want it to be implemented from April 2014, the government wants it to come into force from April 2015.

If implemented from April 2014, around Rs.12,000 crore in arrears would have to be paid to the ex-servicemen.

Veterans agreed to give up two months of arrears but the government asked the date of implementation to be fixed at September 2014. This was also rejected.

“They want us to take the OROP from 2015, at the 2011 scale, which is not possible,” Satbir Singh said.

The veterans also rejected the offer that the pensions be revised under the 7th Pay Commission.

“We are now not ready to compromise any more. We are also taking back the offers of compromise we made. The agitation will continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, the protest by ex-servicemen continued for the 75th day on Friday. While four protesters are in hospital, six are on indefinite fast.

Col. Pushpender Singh (retd), admitted at the Army Research and Referral hospital, is stable but is complaining of double vision on and off.

Havildar Ashok Chauhan (retd) continued to be in the intensive care unit but was stable. Retired major Piar Chand Rana and retired havildar Sahib Singh were also stable. All four continue to be on fast.

Havildar Major Singh, who began his fast last Monday, is still at the Jantar Mantar despite deteriorating condition.

Also on an indefinite fast at the Jantar Mantar are Naik Udai Singh Rawat, Sawal Ram Yadav, father of martyr Lance Naik Sunil Kumar Yadav, Cdr. A.K. Sharma, Subedar Vijay Singh Yadav and Subedar Keshaw Singh, all retired soldiers.

On Friday, the veterans boycotted the government’s commemoration of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war and felicitated war veterans separately, offering flowers to them as well as some families of the martyrs.

They also observed a two-minute silence as a mark of respect to the martyrs.

There are around 24 lakh ex-servicemen in India and around 6.5 lakh widows who will benefit if OROP is implemented.

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