Veterans' Umbrella Group Breaks; One Faction Dissociates

The umbrella organisation leading the agitation for OROP split citing lack of cohesiveness, suggesting politicisation of the movement.

Published: 09th September 2015 07:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th September 2015 07:57 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The umbrella organisation leading the agitation for 'One-Rank, One-Pension' (OROP) split today, just three days ahead of a planned rally, with a key faction dissociating itself from the grouping, citing "lack of cohesiveness" and suggesting politicisation of the movement.

"We have informed the United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement (UFESM) about our decision to withdraw from the grouping. The movement is no longer cohesive," said Lt Gen (Retd) Balbir Singh, President of Indian Ex-Servicemen League.

Singh, who was one of the key negotiators from the veterans' side in talks with the government over OROP, said he was against the rally being organised on Saturday at Jantar Mantar.

He claimed that his group has about 4.5 lakh members and none from his side would be participating in the rally. Altogether, there are around 26 lakh ex-servicemen.

He said constitution of his organisation maintains that its activities will be apolitical "but with rally being planned in Bihar, we felt this is against our own constitution".

He was referring to a grand rally planned by the UFESM in poll-bound Bihar for which no date has been fixed yet.

"Protests can continue after that if need be. Meanwhile, our grievances against the OROP announced by the government should be pursued before the one-man judicial commission that will be set up... We should wait for the final written order that will be issued by the government," he told PTI.

Meanwhile, undeterred by the withdrawal, UFESM said the rally will go on.

"It is an attempt by the government to break us. We will not be deterred and the rally will go on as planned," said Col (Retd) Anil Kaul, the media advisor to UFESM.

Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, who is leading the agitation under the banner of UFESM, could not be reached for comments.

The government had last weekend accepted the 43-year-old demand to remove disparities in pensions but a few sticking points continue to exist.

The main concern of the protesting veterans relates to extension of benefits to premature retirees, annual revision of pensions as against the five-yearly review granted by the government and the method of re-calculation.

Another point that Maj Gen (Retd) Balbir is objecting is the government's decision to set up a single-member judicial committee to look into various aspects of OROP. This committee is supposed to submit the report in six months.

However, the veterans want a five-member panel with a one month deadline for submission of report.

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