Retired soldiers who have been on a relay hunger strike for over a month demanding that the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme is implemented without further delay have said they will continue their agitation until their demands are met by the government.
Defence Minister Manohar Parriker was scheduled to meet some of the ex-servicemen on Tuesday but he did not do so, making some of the retired army staff ‘extremely angry’.
“Neither has Parriker met us yesterday nor does he have plans of meeting us today. We will continue to hold our agitation until our demands are not met. Only, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is responsible for this. Not the Defence Minister. I cannot hold any other person responsible. We gave our support to him (Modi) last year on the basis of an assurance that he will implement the OROP scheme,” said Major General Satbir (retired), while speaking exclusively to Jantakareporter.com.
Before on Wednesday, noted civil rights activist and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare had come out in support of OROP and in a letter to the PM, had warned of a nationwide agitation if the demands were not met.
“We welcome Anna Hazare’s move of support to the OROP scheme. Along with a letter to the PM, he has also a written a letter to us. He is an ex-serviceman just like us and we respect what he is doing for the country and what he has done before along with the likes of Arvind Kejriwal,” said Maj General Satbir.
Major General Satbir even indicated that they as a group were not demanding anything that the army staff do not deserve. As per the current law, pensioners who retired before 2006 draw less pension than their counterparts and even their juniors. Under OROP, someone who retired in 1996 will get the same pension as someone who retired in 2006.
“We are not asking for anything that is not ours. The soldiers serve the country in minus 60-degree temperatures and they deserve something under the written law. The soldiers work tirelessly for the integrity and sovereignty of the nation,” said the ex-army officer.
While the government has been holding up the OROP matter saying there are administrative complications and that documents of military personnel are available only after 25 years, Major General Satbir has trashed these clarifications.
“Implementing this scheme is as easy as a press of the button. They are lying that there are administrative complications around implementation of the scheme. All the necessary records of jawans are already there.”
The government had earlier even indicated that it was delaying the OROP matter because implementing it could mean other government officers too would start demanding One Rank One Pension.
“The OROP scheme does not pertain to other government officers because they do not retire at the age of 35. If you want quality army personnel in the country, you have to pay them,” said Maj Gen Satbir.