NEW DELHI: Ex-servicemen today threatened to launch "fast-unto-death" agitation if the government does not remove the "anomalies" in the 'One-Rank, One-Pension' scheme announced by it last week as hundreds of veterans held a 'Sainik Ekta' rally here.
The rally at Jantar Mantar was attended by ex-servicemen from 22 states and five Union Territories, the organisers claimed. "We have all resolved to continue our protest till such time that the government removes the seven anomalies in the OROP scheme announced by them," said Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, President of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, who is spearheading the agitation since about 90 days.
"Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said a written order on OROP will come out in a month. If the anomalies are not removed by then, we will resort to fast-unto-death," he told PTI. He said the veterans have been seeking for an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain the OROP issue.
"But he said yesterday that OROP is being given at the expense of the poor people in the country. We have been deeply hurt and are anguished over this comment," Singh said. A few ex-servicemen earlier undertook 'fast-unto-death' but ended it after government announced OROP last Saturday. Satbir Singh's threat came as hundeds of ex-servicemen participated in a rally here to demand full implementation of OROP as proposed by them.
However, cracks appeared in the front of ex-servicemen this week with factions levelling allegations against each other. While a section of the veterans were against holding the 'Sainik Ekta' rally, others feel they have been let down by the government, which had announced OROP on Saturday last. On Wednesday, Lt Gen (retd) Balbir Singh, who heads Indian Ex-Services League, had announced his decision to exit the front, alleging lack of cohesion and suggesting politicisation of the agitation.
The front led by Satbir Singh has rejected the government's version of OROP and has put forward seven points of dissent. "The government has created avoidable confusion by including VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme) in its announcement as it does not exist in the defence forces. However, those who have taken premature retirement must come under OROP," Satbir said.
The agitating veterans have also objected to the government taking the calendar year 2013 instead of financial year 2013-14 for fixing the base. "The Defence Minister had earlier assured us that the pensions would be taken from the top of the pay scales, but now the government seems to have gone to an unknown concept," he said.
The ex-servicemen are also opposed to the formation of a one-man judicial commission and demand that it should be composed of three ex-servicemen, one serving officer and a bureaucrat. Also, the deadline for the commission to come out with a report on the implementation of the OROP should be one month instead of the six as proposed by the government.
The protesting veterans have also demanded that the OROP should be independent of the Central Pay Commission and the concept should be in perpetuity. Rejecting the government's proposal of pension revision every five years, Satbir said, "We had agreed to even two years, but now we seek our original demand of revision every year."