Pune/ New Delhi, May 29: A day after Wing Commander Suresh Karnik boycotted a gallantry award function in Pune, he was joined by another war veteran, due to the delay in clearing the 'One Rank, One Pension' (OROP) scheme for veteran soldiers.
On Thursday, May 28, Wing Commander KV Bopardikar, Retd, VM replied to an invitation sent to him through mail. OneIndia possesses the mail sent by the Retd Wing Commander KV Bopardikar.
He politely refused the invitation by saying:
Dear Gp Capt Deshpande,
I thank you for the invitation this evening, but I regret I will not be able to attend the same.
I am very disappointed with the treatment being meted out to us retired faujis by this Government especially after promising so much!
The latest being a quote from our Defence Minister, " There is no time frame for the OROP. "
I only wish that the other retired Service Personnel would also boycott the function!!!
The mail was in response to the invitation that he had received to attend the "Sainik Samman Sammelan" function organised in Pune on Thursday, May 28, at 6 pm in presence of Defence MInister Manohar Parrikar.
On Sunday, May 24, war veteran Group Captain MS Deshpande had sent an invitation mail saying, "I am pleased to invite you for the function organised by "Sanskriti Sanvardhan Samiti Pune" and Purv Sainik Seva Parishad to felicitate our very own Pune city's brave soldiers who were conferred Gallantry awards for their valorous acts in the face of enemy.
I am herewith sending you e_invitation. Please record in your diaries and make all out efforts to attend and pay our respects to these warriors.
You may please send your RSVP on this email address and oblige.
About Retd Wing Commander Suresh Damodar Karnik
On Thursday, May 28, 80-year-old Wing Commander Suresh D Karnik (retd), a 1971 India-Pakistan war veteran, said this was his way of protesting the central government's attitude towards the armed forces personnel and failure to implement the one rank, one pension (OROP) decision. ['One Rank, One Pension' fails to find a place in Modi's Mathura speech]
He declined the invitation saying, "We are unable to accept the invite as we find that in the present dispensation our respected political leaders seem to pursue a Policy towards the Armed Forces which imbibes 'NATO' as our India Policy viz 'NO ACTION TALK ONLY'."
Karnik, a Vir Chakra awardee and a former combat fighter pilot took voluntary retirement from the IAF in 1982 after serving for 27 years."
We have been just waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for years together for better pay and the OROP now pending for over a year. I am already 80.... For how long do they expect me to wait for my legitimate dues after serving the country for so long, Karnik told IANS before boycotting the felicitation ceremony.
Karnik said Parrikar had good intentions with regard to the matter but blamed the bureaucracy and Finance Minister (Arun Jaitely) for dragging it to the disappointment of ex-service personnel across the country.
"Government is paying lip service to ex-servicemen's cause. Bureaucracy is playing its own game on One Rank One Pension issue. Parrikar is a good man but Finance Minister (Arun Jaitely) has sent the file back," he said.
Karnik's decision to boycott the felicitation ceremony earned him admiration and support from defence forces' veterans across the country, through scores of emails and phone calls.
Living with his wife Shaila in Pune for many years now, Karnik's prized possession is a congratulatory letter to him by the legendary Field Marshal Sam Maneckshaw.
Besides, Parrikar, function was attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, alongwith civil and defence personnel.
Former war veterans to hold 'maha rally' on June 14
According to TOI report, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) have planned to organise a 'maha rally' in New Delhi on Sunday, June 14.
A meeting of all the ex-servicemen organisations is also scheduled to be held on Saturday, June 6, at Dhaula Kuan in the national capital.
Talking to TOI, Major General Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), asked, "Why should veterans become decorative pieces in functions of politicians? No veteran would attend their function till our demand is accepted. It was the Prime Minister himself who promised OROP. What is stopping the government from keeping its word?"
Meanwhile, Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan on Thursday, May 28, advised ex-servicemen to be patient on the long-pending demand for 'One Rank One Pension' saying that the government was seized of the matter. [One Rank One Pension: Be patient, Navy chief tells ex-servicemen]
On Thursday, May 28, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also said his ministry had completed all formalities in respect of the one rank-one pension' scheme for ex-servicemen and nobody should try to "politicise" the issue. [Formalities complete, One Rank One Pension will be implemented: Manohar Parrikar]
What is OROP?
OROP has been a long-standing demand of the over two million ex-servicemen of India. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to the defence personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement. [What is One Rank, One Pension of Armed forces?]
The scheme is estimated to cost around Rs 8,600 crore initially and subsequently several crore rupees annually. Currently, all pre 2006 (the year the 6th pay panel recommendations became effective) pensioners receive lesser pension than not only their counterparts but also their juniors.
(With agency inputs)