OROP negotiations continue, no breakthrough, protest to go on

New Delhi, Aug 25: Negotiations over 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) continued on Tuesday as two ex-servicemen on a fast-unto-death were in hospital, while another refused to leave the protest venue even as his health deteriorated.

The veterans held another meeting with Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh on Tuesday, but there was no breakthrough on the issue.

OROP: No breakthrough, protest to go on

"We met the army chief because he is one of us. We are requesting him to facilitate the meetings (with central ministers)," Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd), chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Front, told IANS.

"So far there is nothing which has come out...," he said, adding that the protest will continue.

"The protest will not be terminated till we get a notification implementing OROP," he told IANS.

Col. Pushpender Singh (retd), who was hospitalised after fasting for nine days over non-implementation of OROP, stabilised on Tuesday but the health of two other veterans deteriorated.

Col. Pushpender Singh was rushed to the Army Research and Referral Hospital after his health deteriorated on Monday. "He is stable now and recovering," a hospital spokesperson told IANS on Tuesday.

Col. Anil Kaul (retd), spokesperson for the ex-servicemen front, said the veteran has refused to break his fast.

"He is stable and cheerful but he has not broken his fast yet," a statement said.

On Tuesday, Havildar Ashok Chauhan (retd), who is on fast since last Tuesday, had to be evacuated from the protest venue on Tuesday after he suffered muscle atrophy.

Havildar Major Singh (retd), who has been fasting since last Monday, refused to leave the venue despite his deteriorating health and even refused to take water.

"He is dehydrated, but he has refused to leave the venue," Col. Kaul told IANS.

Havildar Sahib Singh (retd), who joined the fast on Monday, was fit.

Two more veterans, Maj. Piar Chand (retd) and Naik Uday Singh Rawat (retd) also joined the indefinite fast on Tuesday.

The number of supporters, meanwhile, kept growing, with over 300 people gathering on Tuesday, while 37 observed the relay hunger strike for the day.

Among the visitors were Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrashekhar, and golfer Jyoti Randhawa.

Meanwhile, representatives from the veterans met army chief Gen. Dalbir Singh.

The ex-servicemen were hopeful of a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, but there has been no confirmation yet.

Speculation is rife that an announcement may come on August 28, the anniversary of the 1965 war.

Tuesday was the 72nd day of the protest and relay hunger strike. There are around 24 lakh retired servicemen in India and around 6.5 lakh widows who will benefit if OROP is implemented.

The ex-servicemen are demanding that there should be no change in the definition of OROP, the date of implementation should remain as April 1, 2014, and the base year must remain 2013-14.

That means all past pensioners would be brought at par with pension as existing on March 31, 2014.


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