Leaders of ex-servicemen organisations have welcomed the government’s decision to implement the One Rank One Pension scheme for the armed forces, but warned that protests will continue until those who retired prematurely were not included in it.
“We welcome the decision. We fought for One Rank One Pension (OROP) for the last 40 years continuously and approached various governments at the Centre, but each time ex-servicemen were betrayed by politicians,” said Bhim Sen Sehgal, chairman of All India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association (AIEWA).
Former vice-chief of Army Staff and president of War Wounded Foundation, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd), however, said he was dejected.
“Bureaucrats have made a fool of the politicians. The government says it has sanctioned OROP, but have put riders on it. One of them is VRS (voluntary retirement service). Bureaucrats have taken Parrikar for a ride,” Oberoi said.
Brig KS Kahlon (retd), president of the Punjab chapter of All India Defence Brotherhood, said by not including premature retirees in OROP, the government was trying to divide the ex-servicemen fraternity.
“A soldier who completed the pensionable service should get the benefit of enhanced pension. It is injustice,” Kahlon added.
Lt Col SS Sohi (retd), president of the Ex-servicemen Grievance Cell, slammed the government’s decision saying most of the former soldiers or officers had opted for premature retirement.
“Although most of our demands have been met, yet we will continue the protest (until premature retires are not included),” Sohi, who is also a member of the All India United Front of ex-servicemen, an umbrella organisation of ex-servicemen, added.
Col CS Khera (retd), general secretary of Sanjha Morcha, said members of the armed forces opted for voluntary retirement because there are fewer promotions.
“Excluding those who took premature retirement is not acceptable. It is illegal,” Khera said, adding that he was also against the government’s decision to form a one-member judicial committee to give reports on equalisation of pay.
“Instead of that there should be a 5-member committee,” he added.