OROP: Veterans plan Jat-like stir
Military veterans, protesting in the national Capital demanding the implementation of the ‘original’ One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme proposal, said if their demands were not met, they would stage an agitation similar to Jats in Haryana. However, they insisted that their struggle is for respect and not money.
“The fight is for our dignity, honour and integrity and not money. If the government does not agree to our demands, then unfortunately, we will be forced to go the Jat-agitation way,” said Major General Satbir Singh (retd), chairman Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM).
The revised OROP scheme will cost the government Rs 7,500 crore per year against the earlier projected estimate of Rs 8,300 crore. The difference of Rs 800 crore is not the core issue, insist the veterans. When asked that the government had met 91 per cent of their demands, Major General Singh (retd) said: “Money is not the issue, the government must implement OROP as approved by the Parliament in letter-and-spirit.”
Alleging a “conspiracy” by the government, the veterans said it is “extremely unfortunate that they (the government) have changed the very definition of OROP without even involving the veterans.”
The OROP was approved by the erstwhile UPA government in Budget dated February 17, 2014, and then by the NDA government in their Budget dated June 10, 2014.
The UPA had issued an executive order dated February 26, 2014, for the implementation of OROP dues to veterans at the earliest, which was never implemented, the veterans said.“We want that a senior-ranking soldier should not be getting pension less than his junior,” said Group Captain VK Gandhi (retd), general secretary, IESM.
Unhappy over no response from the government, despite several letters written to ministers, the ex-servicemen community plans to step up their stir.
“We will continue our dialogue with the government and also simultaneously plan to exercise our legal options. We will request our representatives in Parliament to raise the issue. Also, there will be an interference in poll-bound states, wherein we will make people aware about the false promises that were made. We will boycott all government functions. It seems the government is forcing us to go on an agitation similar to Jats. It will be unfortunate, but that’s what it seems we have been compelled to do,” added Maj Gen Singh (retd).
Stressing on the deliberate change in the definition of OROP, the ex-servicemen said that the government accepted the following definition of OROP in the letters dated February 26, 2014, and MoS statement in the Rajya Sabha dated December 2, 2014 – “OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to Armed Forces personnel, retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners, and also future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners.”
Meanwhile, the govenment, in a release dated September 5, 2014, changed the OROP definition to – “OROP implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. Future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners at periodic intervals.”