NEW DELHI: “Sadda haq aithe rakh.” (Give me my rights here and now). The slogan rent the air at Jantar Mantar when Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh, leading the protest in Jantar Mantar for the last 83 days, announced the government had accepted their One Rank One Pension demand, two hours before Parrikar made a formal announcement at 3 pm.
The jubilant veterans started clapping, climbing on chairs and hugging one another forgetting the ranks they once held. The 10 jawans sitting on an indefinite hunger strike held hands and shouted slogans of victory in unison. It took more than 15 minutes for Satbir to control them. Finally, he had to shout on the mike, “Yaar fauji chup karjoo.... Yar sainik pariwar chup kar jaayo!” (Soldiers, please be silent!) It took organisers and volunteers 15 minutes to get it done. He declared: “We have told the government that in the Army, there is no concept of the VRS but it’s premature retirement. The government has agreed to consider the issue.”
The crowd repeated: “Sadda haq aithe rakh.”
Relieved, some went for cup of tea. Many grabbed chilled water bottles, soft drinks. Some ate kala jamuns to celebrate. However, what had really annoyed the protesting Armymen was that next to their venue, a group of people on dharna for the release of Asaram Bapu had encroached their space. Still they kept their discipline, as if on a battlefield.
Colonel Tek Pal Singh told Express that when he and his colleagues sat on a protest from June 14 onwards at Jantar Mantar, they were not hopeful that the government would accept their demands. Behind the curtains, however, a few veterans were discussing strategies and steps to be taken after the government made the announcement.
Said Subedar Joshi said: “There are some people and bureaucrats who tried to sabotage our fight by not including OROP for VRS people. Their malicious campaign is to drive a wedge between the government and our leadership.”
OROP volunteer and social media campaigner Atul Dubey alleged that while AAP members were trying to hijack the entire campaign, the BJP members were trying to kill it. “We welcomed people from political parties supporting us but we ensured that they didn’t play politics,” he said.