NEW DELHI:Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an announcement that One Rank One Pension (OROP) will be implemented as promised and pre-mature retired personnel will be included, the veterans sitting on protest and indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar stood up where they were sitting and shouted slogans in unison hailing their unity and fight.
Sainik ekta zindabad and Bharat Mata ki jai slogans rent the air at Jantar Mantar. The veterans hugged each other with smiles and tears on their faces, danced and shouted slogans. The ex-servicemen yelled chants, clapped, sang patriotic songs as well as shouted slogans like Bharat Mata ki jai at full throttle.
The leader of agitating ex-servicemen Major General (Retd) Satbir Singh walked up to the makeshift stage and welcomed the Prime Minister’s clarification on extension of the OROP to also those who retired prematurely.
Though Singh was making attempts to garner attention of veterans, it was of no avail as the veterans were too happy dancing on the streets.
“The government has accepted most of the demands. We are grateful to Prime Minister,” said Sawal Ram Yadav, who had been on indefinite fast for his son Sunil Kumar Yadav, who died on August 18, 2014 in Arunachal Pradesh near China Border during patrolling.
However, when Singh received the attention of the veterans, he said they would end the indefinite hunger strike but will continue agitation till their other demands are met.
“We now call off hunger strike but protests will continue till all our major demands are met,” Singh said. He also announced that a massive “Gaurav rally” at Jantar Mantar would be organised on September 12 for quick resolution of the pending issues.
He said that a major sticking point of revision of pension after a gap of five years, as announced on Saturday, was unacceptable.
“We will resume hunger strike if there is no satisfactory resolution of the pending issues by the government,” he said.
Thereafter, the volunteers and organisers arranged for sweets from the local market. Singh distributed sweets to the 13 ex-servicemen on hunger strike and requested them to call off the protest at around 2:30 pm. The jubilant veterans also held aloft the 13 ex-servicemen sitting on hunger stir in celebration.
One Rank One Pension volunteer and social media campaigner Atul Dubey said, “We are thankful to the government. However, we have not ended our agitation. The core committee meeting will be held at around 10 pm and thereafter we will decide our further strategy.” Dubey was actively distributing ladoos to mediapersons and other ex-servicemen at the venue.