The chairman of the ex-servicemen movement, Maj Gen(Retd) Satbir Singh, who’s been spearheading the soldiers’ fight for the implementation of One Rank One Pension has revealed that the Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley had told them the BJP’s poll promises to soldiers were just electioneering tactics and ‘never meant to be honoured.’
Speaking exclusively to www.jantakareporter.com, Gen Singh said, “One thing I have learnt that what any of these politicians say are never meant to be believed. That’s the rule number one in India. Mr Jaitley when he was the defence minister, had told me, ‘why don’t you lower your expectations?’
“We told him that the OROP had only one definition. It had only one calculation. It had only one implication. We reminded him that this was in their election manifesto. To which he said, ‘You see General, all the assurances that politicians give during elections are not meant to be executed.’ What a shameful thing for him to say in front of ten of us. If a responsible minister says this then I have no faith in the political system.”
The armed forces veteran said he was extremely unhappy with the media fraternity for deliberately spreading misinformation to make the central government look good. He alleged that the media had ‘sold their souls’ by their false reporting that the central government had settled the veterans’ demand on the OROP.
He said, “Media is lying and spreading false information on OROP. They have no sense of journalism. If everything is settled, then where is the notification? Where is the letter? So, for media to say that everything is settled is diabolically stupid. If the journalism has gone shallow in the country, if the media is all purchased and bought and they have no character, then that’s how media starts spreading misinformation. Because somebody including the government pays them and controls them. But whether the media cover our agitation or not, we are continuing with best of our determination.”
Singh also said that one of the national newspapers had even refused to carry the advertisements paid for by the ex-servicemen. He lost his cool while recounting that experience.
“Times of India refused to carry our advertisement. I have decided not to request the members of India media. One day when they chase me for interviews, I will tell them to get out of my sight. I don’t want to see your faces.”
Gen Singh, who had earlier accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ‘betraying the very trust of Indian soldiers’ attacked him once again. He said he was surprised that the prime minister, his cabinet colleagues and ‘everybody else’ had time to ‘hold talks with terrorists to broker peace with them’ but they ‘cannot talk to their ‘erstwhile soldiers.’
“Can there be bigger shame than this? ” he asked.
On being asked why he had not sought help from political parties or leaders who sympathised with their cause, Gen Singh said he welcomed support from everybody regardless of the political ideologies they believed in. He, however said that the ex-servicemen will not give them the platform to ‘highjack’ their agenda.
He said, “I welcome support from everybody regardless of political parties they represent. Whether they are Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal or anybody else, they must realise that we can’t allow them to use our mic to highjack our agenda. They are most welcome to come and sit and express their support to our cause. We didn’t allow Rahul Gandhi to speak, neither did we allow Derek O’Brian of TMC or Bhupendra Hooda of Congress.”
The army veteran also revealed that the organisers of the NRI event for PM Modi had approached him to speak from the same stage where the prime minister was scheduled to speak, but he refused because he didn’t ant to insult the Indian prime minister.
He said, “When our prime minister visited USA recently, the chairman of the NRIs group in San Francisco, some chap called Jit Bajwa, wanted me to come along with the prime minister and speak from the same stage from where Mr Modi was likely to speak. They said they wanted to give us a cheque of 1 million dollar for this agitation. I refused both. I said this was my internal matter and I will resolve within my own country. I will not insult India on foreign soil. We’ve been honourable in our fight. Can the government of India reciprocate by honouring their commitment?”
Gen Singh said there were seven shortccomings in the OROP that the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had announced on 5 September. He said the OROP with those shortcomings will not be acceptable to soldiers.
” If those shortcomings are not removed and government goes ahead with the notification, it will kill the very definition of One Rank One Pension. It will then be called One Rank Five Pension. Because same years of service and same rank going to be reviewed after five years would mean that there will be five pensions. These politicians and babus so illiterate that they don’t even know that the armed forces don’t have the VRS. We have the premature retirement, which is the requirement of the government. They want to have a young army. Therefore, the soldiers have to leave after 17 years in service.”
Indian armed forces veterans have been protesting at Delhi Jantar Mantar for last 121 says with several ex-servicemen and their wives taking part in relay hunger strikes.