NEW DELHI: After 73 days of agitation, a breakthrough over the 'One Rank One Pension' issue appeared to be evolving as the veterans said on Wednesday that talks with the government have moved "a step forward".
"Dialogue with the government is continuing and considerable ground has been covered today. We have moved a step forward and are optimistic about the final outcome," said an official statement from the veterans on Wednesday evening.
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This comes after the ex-servicemen warned again on Wednesday morning that they would scale up the agitation if their demands were not met.
The veterans had planned to scale up the agitation after the government failed to announce OROP on August 15, as expected.
However, they were asked to wait for 10 more days, which ended on Wednesday.
As talks within government circles and negotiations with the veterans continued, two of the veterans on a fast-unto-death, Col. Pushpender Singh (retd) and Hav. Ashok Chauhan (retd) continue to be in hospital.
Both continue to be on fast in hospital.
Hav. Major Singh, whose condition deteriorated, refused to leave the venue on Wednesday as well. He has been on fast since Monday last week.
A spokesperson from the veterans' side said medical arrangements have been made at Jantar Mantar to address any emergency.
On Wednesday, three more veterans joined the indefinite fast, taking the number of fasting ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar to six.
The veterans sitting on indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar now include Hav. Sahib Singh, who replaced Col. Singh on Monday, Nk. Uday Singh Rawat, and Maj. Piar Singh who joined on Tuesday.
Of the three who joined the fast on Wednesday, Sanwal Ram Yadav is the father of a martyred soldier, Ln. Nk. Sunil Kumar Yadav.
So far, there have been certain points of contention between the government and the veterans.
Sources told IANS that the government wants 2011 to be the base year, while the veterans say it should be at the 2014 level, along with a 3 percent increment every year, which the government is not agreeing to.
Besides, the government wants payment to begin from April 1, 2015 as against the agreed date of April 1, 2014.
This was after a meeting between the veterans and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh on Tuesday night.
Wednesday was the 73rd day of protest.
The ex-servicemen are 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. That means all past pensioners would be brought at par with pension as existing on March 31, 2014.