NEW DELHI — Slogans of 'sadda haq, aithe rakh' (give us our due) rent the air as protesting ex-servicemen finally called off their fast unto death on Sunday, after assurance from Prime Minister Narendra Modi that OROP will be implemented as promised. But veterans decided to continue their protest till all the issues were resolved.
The ex-servicemen said revision of pension after a gap of five years as announced by the government is not at all acceptable to them, besides appointment of a one-man judicial commission to examine various aspects of one rank-one pension (OROP), reported PTI.
Colonel Pushpender, Havaldar Major Singh and 12 others who were on an indefinite hunger strike, called off their fast with sweets at Jantar Mantar in the heart of the national capital.
'Sadda Haq Aithe Rakh', 'Sainik shakti zindabad' fill air at as ex-servicemen call off hunger strike #OROPDeliveredSeptember 6, 2015
Addressing a press conference, Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, leader of the association leading the agitation, said the protest will continue till four specific points raised by the ex-servicemen are not accepted by the government. "We urge all those who are on hunger strike to withdraw it as the PM has clarified on the issue of premature retirement. But our protest will continue till the government accepts four points raised by us," he said.
Premature retirement is the one point we wanted to discuss. Def Min confirmed that Army doesnt have VRS: Satbir Singh after meeting Def Min— ANI (@ANI_news) September 5, 2015
He said ex-servicemen may resume hunger strike again if the government fails to resolve the pending issues.
"We thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for fulfilling the promise of one rank-one pension. We thank the defence minister but there are four issues to be resolved including the period of equalisation of pension," Singh said.
Government must issue the letter, then we will withdraw our agitation: Major General (retired) Satbir Singh pic.twitter.com/bmdEvQoNNW— Hindustan Times (@htTweets) September 6, 2015
The veterans, who have been pressing for one rank-one pension (OROP) for four decades, yesterday won a partial victory with the government announcing that it would implement it, but the veterans rejected the decision and decided to continue their agitation. The issue of whether the scheme would cover ex-servicemen who have taken premature retirement had emerged as a major sticking point.
They met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar yesterday and later said his clarification in this regard was "satisfying".
Modi today affirmed that armed forces personnel who retired prematurely will be entitled to 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) scheme that ensures uniform pension for veterans retiring in the same rank and the same length of service.
Modi, who was addressing a public gathering after inaugurating a Metro line between Delhi and Haryana, slammed the Congress party for neglecting OROP for 40 years and yet criticizing the government for it's decision to implement the scheme that will immediately benefit close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows. (With inputs from PTI)