Retired Defence Personnel Protesting Over One Rank One Pension Begin Relay Hunger Strike
NEW DELHI: Ex-servicemen across the country began an indefinite relay hunger strike today, demanding that the government announce a date for the introduction of the 'One Rank One Pension' policy.
Hundreds of retired defence personnel held protests yesterday too, and sought President Pranab Mukherjee's intervention. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has assured them the "promises" made would be kept and that they should be "patient".
The OROP was a key poll promise of the BJP-led government, but its introduction has been delayed. What made it more difficult was that it involved various departments. Sources told NDTV that the file is shuttling between the finance and defence ministries.
The Narendra Modi government has said that it is committed to the policy but has refused to specify a timeline for its implementation. Last month, the Prime Minister touched upon the issue during his monthly radio address, Mann ki Baat, saying, "You have been patient for 40 years, wait for some more time. This is a complex issue... I promise we will hold discussions and resolve it."
"The Prime Minister's voice still echoes in our minds when he roared at the ex-servicemen rally on September 15, 2013, in Rewari and demanded a white paper on OROP from the UPA Government. He did not stop there, but declared that had there been BJP government in 2004, OROP would have been a reality by now," read a statement released by the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, which is spearheading the agitation.
The scheme seeks to ensure that defence personnel who retire at the same rank and with the same length of service, will get equal pension, irrespective of when they retired. Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be its immediate beneficiaries.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations at the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.
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