Protesting against the non-implementation of the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme, four ex-servicemen had climbed a water tank near Jagraon bridge and threatened suicide if their demands were not met. They decided to end their protest later in the evening after assurances from the government.
The men, under the banner of the Sanka Sainik Sangarsh Committee, climbed the tank at 2.30 am. They said they were disheartened at the growing disparity in the pay and pension between the jawan and office cadre. They also want to meet the Union defence minister.
The protesters – Harbhal Singh, Pargat Singh, Kartar Singh and Gurdial Singh – had threatened to jump to their deaths if their demands were not met by 6 pm on Friday. Soon SDM and local police arrived at the spot to negotiate with the protesters. By 6.30 pm, they claimed they were shown a fax from the defence ministry, which agreed to fix an appointment with the minister within a fortnight.
Beer Bahadur, National Coordinator of Voice of Ex-servicemen society, said, “The four had protested in Jantar Mantar from August 23 to September 7. We had a meeting with joint secretary at PMO office on October 11 where they had asked us to give everything in writing yet again. And today we had a meeting at Chandigarh road to apprise all the union members about details of meeting at PMO office, but much before the meeting, they climbed the water tank. We are here to support them.”
Nalin Talwar added,”Since 1973 the pay and pension disparity between officers and jawans have been increasing and even if it is corrected, it will take more than 15 years to fill this gap.”
The members demanded that the disability pension and military service pension should be equal to all ranks. JCOs and Jawans should be paid 75% of the pension of their last drawn salary, they demanded. They wanted officers to stop asking jawans to do their personal chores.
Meanwhile, a meeting of Ex-servicemen welfare society comprising was held at Bistro restaurant in Ghumar Mandi where Dafedar Harjinder Singh Khera from Patiala had arrived. Khera is on a motorcycle yatra to all parts of Punjab to spread awareness of OROP. Col R.S Sohi (retd), President of Ludhiana Ex-servicemen welfare society said, “The protest by at Delhi is for one and all and Gen Satbir Singh who is leading the protest said that demands of widows, jawans will be met first.”