Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Friday accused the Narendra Modi government at the Centre of misleading the nation over the issue of disability pension of armed forces. Rejecting the Centre’s claim that there had been no reduction in the disability pension, he said the BJP-led government was using selective data, projected by vested interests, to spread lies. “The government should stop playing dirty games with the armed forces, which was the only institution in the country that is respected by all communities and sections,” Singh said, adding that why the government could not give the same respect to the forces as was given by the common man.
Terming as “ridiculous” the fact that there was not a single person from the armed forces on the 7th Pay Commission panel, the Congress leader said figures were being interpreted and projected by the government in such a way to suggest that the disability pension had not been cut. The fact is, the disability pension had been reduced across several key categories of defence personnel, he said, adding that the large number of personnel of various ranks will actually not get benefits of the new scales.
Rather, only those jawans would benefit who are invalided out with minimal service at the beginning of their careers, which is a rare possibility in any case, said Singh, himself an ex-soldier. He said under the slab system, Jawans would benefit only if their pay at the time of release from service is less than Rs 34,800 (basic) plus Rs 5,200 (military service pay) under the 7th CPC rates since below this, 30 per cent of basic pay would fall to less than Rs 12,000.
Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) will only benefit if their pay at the time of release is less than Rs 51,000 plus Rs 5,200 since below this, 30 per cent of basic pay would be less than Rs 17,000. Commissioned Officers will only benefit if their pay at the time of release is less than Rs 74,500 plus Rs 15,500 since below this, 30 per cent would be less than Rs 27,000.
Since most of the retirees at the Jawan level are above the basic level of Rs 34,800 plus Rs 5,200, they will not be benefitted from the slab system introduced as per the 7th Pay Commission recommendations, he said. They will gain only under the percentage system of calculation, the PCC chief said, adding that the same logic applied to other ranks also.
“In any case, if the slab system is beneficial for lower ranks then why had not it been made applicable to other services, including the Central Armed Police Forces?” he said. Singh further pointed out that while all pensions, including disability pensions for civilians, had been multiplied by 2.57 by the Pay Commission, singularity disability pensions of the military had been slashed and in some cases reduced to less than half.
The government, Singh said, was unnecessarily and deliberately creating a situation of unrest in the armed forces, which could prove highly dangerous for the country’s security and future. He demanded to know why the armed forces were being subjected to such shoddy treatment, wherein their pay scales were even less than those in the paramilitary forces. Such distinction was bound to create a schism between the paramilitary and defence forces, which the nation simply could not afford given the prevailing geopolitical scenario, he said.