New Delhi: A group of ex-servicemen today announced that they will boycott all official functions, including ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations of the victory in 1965 war, in protest against delay over implementation of “One Rank One Pension” by the government.
Protesting against the delay in implementation of OROP, the ex-servicemen in various cities across the country are holding relay hunger-strike, which entered the eighth day today.
“Our protest will continue till our legitimate dues of OROP is met by the government. We have decided to boycott all official functions including the ongoing commemoration of the victory of 1965 War and the upcoming Independence day celebrations at-home on August 15,” Chairman of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) Major General (Retd) Satbir Singh told in New Delhi.
Hitting out at the government over non-implementation of their long-pending demand of OROP, Singh, who is also Convenor of the United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM) said, “The widows of 1965 war are not getting their dues and nor the soldiers who fought the war. What the government is commemorating?” India had defeated Pakistan in 1965 war.
The Narendra Modi government has said it was committed to OROP, a key promise made during Lok Sabha polls. It is, however, yet to implement the scheme. Around 22 lakh ex- servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the OROP scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for ex-servicemen is based on the recommendations of the Pay Commission of that time when they had retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996. Meanwhile, asked about indications that the government might extend OROP to Jawans and other ranks, another official of the group termed it as “tragic”.
“It would be a real tragic as the government is trying to divide us. We stand united in demanding OROP for all,” Colonel (Retd) Anil Kaul, Media Advisor to IESM said. The ex- servicemen said they were considering taking help from opposition parties, especially in Bihar, to push for their demand.
Assembly elections in Bihar are likely to be held in September or October this year. BJP has a tough fight on hand against the JD(U)-RJD-Congress-NCP combine. Besides Bihar, they think they are a strong constituency also in Punjab where the Assembly elections are due in early 2017.