Rahul Gandhi Wednesday asked the Prime Minister to implement One Rank, One Pension in a meaningful way in the wake of alleged suicide by an ex-serviceman over the issue and said soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is their due. “I urge the PM once again: soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is their due. OROP must be implemented in a meaningful way!” the Congress Vice President said on micro-blogging site Twitter, adding that, “My heartfelt condolences to the family of Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal. Extremely sad to learn of his death.”
His plea came soon after reports that 70-year-old ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal from Haryana’s Bhiwani district allegedly ended his life in the lawns behind the Jawahar Bhavan Tuesday evening. Police had said he along with some other ex-servicemen was in the process of submitting a memorandum to the Defence Ministry over the issue of OROP.
Pinning the letter he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi four days ago, Gandhi said “Let us show our gratitude to our brave soldiers not only through our words but also through our actions.” In the letter, Gandhi had questioned Modi government’s resolve to work for soldiers’ welfare, asking the Prime Minister to first implement the ‘one rank, one pension’ scheme in a meaningful way and redress their pay anomalies and other grievances.
The Congress Vice President had told the Prime Minister that he was saddened at the decisions of the government taken in the last few weeks “which are far from reassuring the soldiers and has caused them pain instead”. Steps should be taken to send a message to soldiers on Diwali expressing “our gratitude both in words and in deed”, Rahul had said in the letter to the Prime Minister who has launched a campaign through which people can send their Diwali greetings and messages to soldiers guarding the nation’s frontiers to boost their morale.
“Just days after our soldiers conducted the surgical strikes, the disability pension system was converted to a new slab system, that in many instances drastically reduces the pension received by these brave men in case of a disability,” the Congress VP had said. “OROP must be implemented in a meaningful way to satisfy ex-servicemen and the anomalies in the 7th Pay Commission must be addressed at the earliest, because soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is surely due to them on behalf of a grateful nation,” Rahul had said, claiming that some decision of the government have “adversely affect the morale of our armed forces”.
The Prime Minister had earlier accused Congress of not taking the OROP issue seriously by earmarking a paltry sum of Rs 500 crore for it. Rahul had said, “As a responsible democracy we must make sure that the brave soldiers who put their lives on the line for each one of us, feel the love, support and gratitude of 125 crore people,” urging the PM to, “ensure that our soldiers get their due whether it is regarding compensation, disability pension, or parity with civil employees”.