Ex-servicemen on Saturday announced that they would go on a hunger strike from June 15 as the government has failed to commit a timeline for the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.
A group of 15 representatives from various ex-servicemen organisations met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in the morning but were not able to get a date by which the scheme will be implemented.
“We met the Defence Minister, he promised that the government is committed to implementing OROP. We agreed over the government’s definition of OROP and the formula used to calculate the budgetary provisions. Though we have faith in the government’s good intentions, it is non-committal over the timeline of implementation,” Group Captain (retd) V K Gandhi, general secretary of the Indian Ex Servicemen Movement, told The Sunday Express.
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Later in the day, about 150 veterans representing 20-odd ex-servicemen organisations deliberated upon the matter at the Constitution Club. “We have unanimously decided to go ahead with the agitation on June 14 at Jantar Mantar. Starting June 15 we will go on an indefinite hunger strike till the government announces the date of implementation of OROP,” Gandhi said. They will also hold rallies in 50 cities across the country.
OROP, which means equal pension for officers, men retiring at the same rank and with equal length of service, has been approved in principle by the government. But the file has been shuttling between Finance Ministry and Defence Ministry for the finalisation of financial allocation. Last month, two war veterans refused to be felicitated by the Defence Minister to convey their displeasure over the non-implementation of OROP.
MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar, who attended the meeting and has been pressing the issue for years, said, “OROP is a legitimate right of our veteran and it is indeed dismaying that they have had to fight for it for so long.”