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OROP protest: Veterans returning medals aren’t behaving like soldiers, says Parrikar

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar acknowledged the protest, but called it "misguided".

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
November 11, 2015 12:42:25 am
Medals returned by ex-servicemen Tuesday. (Source: Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey) Medals returned by ex-servicemen Tuesday. (Source: Express Photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Unhappy with provisions of the One-Rank-One-Pension scheme announced last week, hundreds of veterans returned their gallantry medals in Delhi and other places Tuesday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was quoted by PTI as saying in Goa that the ex-servicemen’s protest was “unlike that of a soldier”.

“Medals are given by the country for the service and gallantry acts that the soldiers have rendered. A section insisting on returning the medals because one is not happy with certain clauses of OROP, for which the government is paying over Rs 8,000 crore, is demeaning the medal itself… These acts are not in line with the army discipline,” he was quoted as saying.

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The ex-servicemen said they will observe ‘black Diwali’ in protest against the “diluted” OROP provisions.

More than 500 veterans marched from Jantar Mantar to the airport to return their medals in Delhi. Similar marches were held in 14 other cities, including Chandigarh, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala, Rohtak, Hisar and Ambala.

Group captain V K Gandhi, general secretary of Indian Ex Servicemen Movement, claimed nearly 2,000 retired soldiers had gathered at Jantar Mantar and over 600 medals had been “returned”. District Magistrate of New Delhi Sanjay Kumar had to come and receive the “surrendered” medals after the veterans threatened to “leave them on the road” to “let tourists see what the government was doing to the soldiers”.

“It’s like politicians have eyes and ears but are refusing to see or hear anything,” said 70-year-old Lt Ganga Singh, a former paratrooper, who has travelled to Delhi for the sixth time since the hunger strike started in July.

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Gurnam Singh (80) returned nine medals, including those he won in the 1962 and 1965 wars. He said the government was “trying to divide” serving soldiers and veterans and create a split between jawans and officers.

Meanwhile, former Defence Minister A K Antony accused the NDA government of betraying veterans. “It is not a Diwali gift. It is a Diwali shock for service personnel from the Modi government. It is a vast dilution of the UPA government’s order,” he added.

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First published on: 11-11-2015 at 12:42:25 am
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