Minister of state and former army chief Gen (retired) VK Singh’s daughter Mrinalini Singh joined retired military personnel protesting for the implementation of one rank one pension (OROP) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday.
Demanding a speedy resolution to the contentious issue, Mrinalini said: “I am here to support the cause of ex-servicemen because I too am an ex-serviceman’s daughter. I feel that the OROP should be implemented as soon as possible.
“Even my grandfather was a soldier, and may be my son would also become one. I hope the government will soon heed to this demand. It’s long overdue. I did take up the issue with my father. He has written a letter to the prime minister,” she said at Jantar Mantar, site of the protest by veterans.
OROP or the demand for the same pension for personnel of the same rank who retire after the same length of service, irrespective of the date of retirement, has been accepted in principle by Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the government is yet to set a timeframe for implementing the scheme.
All personnel who retired before 2006, the year the 6th pay panel’s report became effective, receive smaller pensions than their counterparts who retired later and their juniors.
The OROP scheme is expected to benefit close to 3 million defence pensioners and 600,000 widows. Army veterans have in the past returned medals and signed petitions to draw the government’s attention to the issue.
Retired military officers pointed out that most bureaucrats retire at the age of 60, while soldiers usually retire at the age of 35 to 37 and officers at 54. They said soldiers are retired early to keep the army young and they must be compensated.
On June 15, angered by the government’s delay, organisations representing veterans launched nationwide protests, including hunger strikes.
On August 14, Delhi Police forcibly removed some veterans from Jantar Mantar as part of security arrangements for Independence Day, angering the protestors.
Four former service chiefs recently wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, asking him to “urgently intervene” in the OROP row. They said the delay in rolling out the scheme was a danger to the country’s political and military ethos.
With the implementation of OROP, personnel who retired over the years will draw the same pension as officers and soldiers of the same rank who retire now. They will also be entitled to a year’s back pay in pensions at the new rate.
The NDA government has been facing sharp criticism from associations of retired military personnel and the main opposition Congress for not implementing OROP.
Its implementation was one of the major promises made by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the run-up to last year’s general election.