New Delhi, May 29: Miffed with government over their long-pending demand for one-rank-one-pension (OROP), armed forces' veterans are prepared for a long fight by launching an agitation next month.
A day after two war veterans, Wing Commander S.D. Karnik and Wing Commander Bhopadekar, boycotted a function where they were to be felicitated by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement chief Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd) said they have been trying to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a long time but have failed to get an appointment. [OROP issue: War veterans boycott govt functions; plan maha rally on June 14]
"Prime minister had promised that one-rank-one-pension will be given within 100 days of the government taking office; it's one year now. What happened to the promise," Singh asked while speaking to IANS.
"We are prepared for a long haul; we will start agitation from mid-June, and we will go on the streets," he said.
The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement has around 30,000 active members and is attached to several other organisations.
"It will be wrong to say we will boycott all government functions. But if needed, to assert our views we will not participate in the republic day parade next year," Singh said.
"We met the defence minister four times. All modalities have been worked out... Why is the government delaying it now," he questioned.A
He also reminded that it was an election promise of the government made by Modi himself.
"We have written four letter to the prime minister; we have been seeking appointment with him, he does not even want to speak with us," said Singh.
"Modi promised three things, an ex-servicemen commission, war memorial at India Gate and one-rank one pension. Not even one has been implemented so far. Ex-servicemen are opinion makers in elections at several places; there are atleast 150 constituencies where ex-servicemen dominate the voting pattern," he said.
There are around 24 lakh retired servicemen in the country, and around 6.5 lakh widows of men from armed forces.
"When a soldier writes his life to the nation, it is the nation's responsibility to take care of him and his family. Those who have given their lives for nation deserve their right," said Singh.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time when the personnel retired.
This leads to a difference in pension for officers of same rank who retire on different dates.
With OROP, retired personnel would draw the same pension as officers and jawans of the same rank who are retiring now.
They would also be entitled to a year's back pensions at the new rate, which would be a windfall for pensioners.
OROP will benefit 25 lakh ex-servicemen. It is expected to cost the government more than Rs. 85,000 crore.