MYSURU: The Centre's proposal for payment of ex-gratia monthly pension of Rs 30,000 exclusively for "Emergency Commissioned and Short Service Commissioned Officers" (EC/SSC) war veterans who fought the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 has been termed 'illogical' by the head of an ex-servicemen's trust.
Mandetira N Subramani, president of VeKare Ex-servicemen Trust (VKET) and honorary advisor to Kodagu (Coorg) Ex-servicemen Welfare Association (Mysore East), questioned the rationale for not offering the same grant for hapless jawans who fought the wars and were discharged for various reasons without any pension.
"The proposal of the government to grant a monthly pension to EC/SSC officers of Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force of yore who fought Indo-Pak 1965 or 1971 war is a noble gesture, though belated. But the government has totally neglected jawans, sailors and airmen who fought the same wars and have been discharged from the Army/Navy/Air Force before completion of their pensionable service of 15 years," he regretted.
“It is needless to mention that jawans have also played a predominant role in the same wars. No war can be won without their contribution and Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971 are no exception. Hence, jawans, seamen and airmen (NCOs/ORs cadre) should be mandatorily considered for the same monthly pension that would be sanctioned to EC/SSC officers of yore who fought in the wars in 1965 and 1971,” Subramani said.
“The proposed policy should be based on the criteria, not on the cadre of a war veteran. All are soldiers first, later they are segregated as jawans or EC / SSC officers. The gullible jawans should also be provided with pension and this needs to be debated at length by policymakers before formulating any policy on payment of pension only for EC/SSC officers,” added Subramani, a retired senior non-commissioned officer of the Indian Air Force.
He further stated that it would be highly unjust, discriminatory and stepmotherly treatment for the jawans if the proposed pension or benefits is denied to them.
Subramani also demanded that the Centre extend the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) facility to jawans who fought the war but are not in receipt of any pension, the way it is extended to "Emergency Commissioned and Short Service Commissioned Officers" (even though they are not in receipt of any military pension as of now).
Whenever any policy is formulated for the welfare of armed forces personnel, it should not deviate from the principle of natural justice. Hence, war veterans who participated in any one of the above wars, served for more than EC/SSC officers and were discharged honourably prior to pensionable service should be considered at par with EC and SSC officers for payment of ex-gratia/monthly pension, he demanded.
Subramani also further suggested that the authorities must set benchmark criteria based on the number of years of service rendered by the combatant soldiers including officers and whether they actively fought/participated in one or both the above-said wars and were released from service honourably for whatever reason.
The VKET has written has already a letter to the Ministry of Defence with copies to the three chiefs of the Armed Forces to review the proposed policy.