NEW DELHI: In an attempt to pacify the agitating ex-servicemen over the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) issue, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Tuesday held talks with representatives of the ex-servicemen. Following this, the retired defence personnel have agreed not to escalate their agitation for the next 10 days.
Simultaneously, the Delhi Police, which had come under fire for the manner in which it tried to evict the protesters on the eve of the Independence Day citing security concerns, also apologised to the agitating ex-servicemen for their action.
The meeting between ex-servicemen’s representatives and the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra at the PMO came on a day when a third veteran joined the fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar here, where they have been protesting for the past 65 days demanding the early implementation of OROP. “We met Misra in the morning. He stressed that normalcy should be restored. Asked what he meant by that, he said the fast-unto-death should be called off. We told him that if there were a concrete assurance, we will call it off,” Lt Gen Balbir Singh (Retd), president of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement said.
He said since talks had already been held with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had sought 10 days’ time to discuss the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “there won’t be any escalation of protest for the next 10 days”.
Army chief General Dalbir Singh has played a major role in bringing back talks between the government and the ex-servicemen which were derailed after the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech. On Monday he had met the leaders of ex-servicemen and asked them to meet the PMO official on Tuesday.
However, three former defence personnel-- Colonel (retired) Pushpinder Singh of 3 Grenadiers, Havalder (retired) Major Singh of 3 Sikh Light Infantry and Havaldar (retired) Ashok Chauhan -- who are on an indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar here have decided to continue their fast despite the PMO’s assurance.
While Colonel (retired) Pushpinder Singh and Havalder (retired) Major Singh began their fast on Monday, Havaldar (retired) Ashok Chauhan joined them on Tuesday.
Major General Satbir Singh (Retd), who along with Lieutenant General Balbir met Misra on Tuesday morning for an hour said they had made it clear that definition of the OROP would remain the same. “We have also sought an assured date for implementation of the OROP and the date of effect will remain April 1, 2014, as was decided by the government,” Satbir said.
Colonel Anil Kaul (Retd), media adviser to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM), said Misra had stressed that the three, who were on the fast-unto-death, be requested to discontinue it. “We told him that it was an individual decision and members are trying to prevail upon them to call off their fast,” he said.