NEW DELHI: Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a bid to explore ways to implement One Rank One Pension scheme, a long pending demand of ex-servicemen.
Expectations are high as the Prime Minister’s Office is directly handling the issue and an announcement is likely in the next couple of days. According to sources in the South Block, back-channel talks between the government and representatives of the agitating ex-servicemen are on to sort out the vexed issue. Till late evening on Tuesday, delegations of former defence personnel met top government functionaries and Army Chief General Dalbir Singh. Moreover, a meeting was held at the official residence of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
Express has reported first that the government is seriously considering an option to announce the OROP by August 28, the day the government would be launching its 25-day nationwide celebrations to mark the golden jubilee of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.
The government wants to avoid an embarrassment as the ex-servicemen community has already decided to boycott the celebrations if the government failed to make an announcement on the OROP.
Meanwhile, the fast-unto-death protest by former defence personnel entered its ninth day on Tuesday. Retired havildar Major Singh, who is also on hunger strike since August 16 at Jantar Mantar, refused a medical check-up. Also, two more veterans, Maj (retd) Pyar Chand and Naik (retd) Uday Singh Rawat, joined the fast-unto-death. The OROP protest at Jantar Mantar has been on for the past 73 days. In a related development, Voice of Ex-servicemen Society -- a group of retired jawans and other ranks -- started a parallel protest accusing the Union Front of Ex-Serviceman (UFESM), the main organisation leading the OROP agitation, of being an “officers group”.
The new group claimed that their interests were not protected by the UFESM during the talks. “The OROP should be implemented only after taking our demands into consideration,” said Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society secretary Bir Bahadur Singh.