NEW DELHI: The Defence Ministry will launch a publicity blitzkrieg to counter the “negative propaganda” on the One Rank, One Pension scheme.
The ministry feels that despite agreeing to a majority of the demands of the veterans and resolving the four-decade-old issue, a section of the defence personnel are continuing their agitation to discredit the government.
According to sources, the department of ex-servicemen’s welfare has been directed by the ministry to come out with detailed advertisements, explaining each and every issue of the OROP scheme, in all newspapers, including vernaculars, which was notified by the government early this month.
An awareness campaign will also be launched keeping in view the forthcoming Assembly elections in states like Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, which has a large population of defence personnel.
On the issue of OROP, both the government and the veterans have come out against each other and the latter even burnt their medals in protest recently, forcing Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to publicly denounce their action and assert that all their demands cannot be met.
Parrikar has repeatedly said in public that the behaviour of the ex-servicemen, protesting the notification on OROP scheme, was “unlike that of a soldier” and that they had been misguided.
Parrikar has also gone ahead to say that medals were a recognition of the nation for the sacrifices of the armed forces and as such, burning or returning them was an insult to the nation and the defence forces. The government also feels that veterans’ protest has political linkages. “It is very disturbing that a section of the veterans are spreading misinformation on OROP despite the government paying over `8,000 crore annually to settle the four-decade-long demand of defence personnel. Some clarity is required to counter the misinformation campaign,” said an official of the department.
The issue of veterans has now become a political weapon as various opposition parties have come out in support of the protesting veterans. The Congress has accused the government of practising “politics of deception” and AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the OROP notification a farce and claimed it was not in the right spirit.
Alleging there are ‘seven pitfalls’ in the government’s notification of the OROP, a section of the veterans are also considering legal options, including a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the notification as they claim to have lost faith in the government.