New Delhi: Miffed over their long-pending demand of “One rank, One pension” (OROP) not being met, veterans from the armed forces on Friday said they were ready for a protracted fight with the central government and will launch an agitation next month.
Defence ministry sources said it was difficult to give a timeline for the implementation of the plan as the process in this regard was on. The file has been sent to the finance ministry, which had some queries on it.
Earlier, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said a timeline cannot be given to implementation of OROP and the file was in final stage.
Veterans, meanwhile, complain that they have been trying to get in touch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi but failed to get an appointment.
Miffed ex-servicemen said their protest would go on for long and if needed they will boycott the Republic Day parade next year.
“Modi had promised that ‘One rank, One pension’ will be given within 100 days of the government taking office. It’s one year now. What happened to the promise,” Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement chief Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd) told IANS.
“We are prepared for a long haul. We will start agitation from mid-June,” he said.
The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, which has around 30,000 active members, has plans for a sit-in and hunger strike as well.
“It will be wrong to say that we will boycott all government functions. But if needed, to assert our views we will not participate in the Republic Day parade next year,” Singh said.
The Republic Day parade has a marching contingent of veterans every year as one of its highlights.
“We met the defence minister four times. All modalities have been worked out… Why is the government delaying it now?” Singh asked.
He said it was an election promise made by Modi himself. “We have written four letters to the prime minister. We have been seeking appointment with him, he does not even want to speak with us,” said Singh.
“Modi promised three things – an ex-servicemen commission, a war memorial at India Gate and One rank, One pension. Not even one has been implemented so far.
“Ex-servicemen are opinion makers in elections at several places. There are at least 150 constituencies where ex-servicemen dominate the voting pattern,” he said.
There are around 24 lakh ex-servicemen in the country and around 6.5 lakh widows of men from the armed forces.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time when the personnel retired. This leads to a difference in pension for officers of the same rank who retire on different dates.
With OROP, the retired personnel would draw the same pension as officers and soldiers of the same rank who are retiring now.
They would also be entitled to a year’s pension arrears at the new rate which would be a windfall for them. OROP will benefit 25 lakh ex-servicemen and is expected to cost the government around Rs.8,500 crore.