Voicing “dismay” over inability of political leadership to implement ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme, ten former Service Chiefs have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the issue should be resolved expeditiously within a time frame as any further delay will lower the morale of the armed forces.
They also sought immediate action against Delhi Police for its high handedness on August 14 against the veterans who were staging protest at Jantar Mantar to demand OROP implementation. The development came on a day when two of the agitating ex-servicemen launched fast-unto-death, stepping up the stir on the issue.
The letter, signed by former Army chiefs V N Sharma, Shankar Roy Choudhary, S Padmanabhan, N C Vij, J J Singh, Deepak Kapoor and Bikram Singh, regretted that Modi did not announce implementation of OROP in his Republic Day address, dashing the hopes of ex-servicemen.
“We had earlier not approached the Honourable Prime Minister as we had full faith in the announcements made by our senior political leadership from time to time. We were also hopeful that the announcement of the implementation of the OROP would be made to the Nation on Independence Day. Regrettably this has not happened,” said the letter.
Former Navy chief Admiral Madhvendera Singh and former Air Force chiefs N C Suri and S P Tyagi were also signatories to the letter.
“We have full faith in our political leadership but their inability to clinch the issue leaves us dismayed. We stand steadfastly by the side of our colleagues and fully support their just cause,” the letter said talking about the ongoing protest at Jantar Mantar by the ex-servicemen community.
The letter said that their silence so far was to observe propriety.
“As much as the ORP, the respect and dignity of the soldier is at stake here and let it be known that we have extreme concern for the veterans’ long pending demands.
“We would strongly urge the Government to settle this issue expeditiously and in an urgent time frame. Any further delays in our considered view will be at the cost of damaging the pride of veterans and lowering the morale of armed forces. The nation can ill afford such an imbroglio,” the letter said.
The former Service chiefs said there is only one definition of OROP acceptedÂ by Parliament and also by the Defence Minister in the presence of the veterans.
“This is ‘uniform pension to be paid to the Armed Forces retiring in the same rank with same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement’. Simultaneously, ‘Annual Review System’ would be required to be put in place for equalization of pension of the past and current retirees,” it said.
The former chiefs said the then Defence Minister after consultations with the Services Headquarters representatives, veterans and MoD Officials had approved a Rs 8,300-crore model in February 2014 based on formula of maximum pension date for each rank and service as on Financial Year 2014.
“The often quoted technical difficulties without ever being specified and discussed are thus bewildering. This is simple arithmetic based on the Standard Pension Tables of the government.
“These delays are construed to be only with a view to bring in changes in the parameters and dilute the entitlements, which will be grossly unjust and unacceptable,” the letter said.
Stressing that they are deeply perturbed and distressed by the highhanded treatment of veterans on August 14 at Jantar Mantar, they said the ex-servicemen have been on a peaceful demonstration at this venue and have been trying to make the government hear their voice since June 12.
“We unequivocally condemn the action by the Police and urge the government to investigate and take immediate action,” they said.
The foprmer Chiefs added that this indiscretion on the part of the Police has seriously impacted the pride and morale of all ranks of the three Services and the Veterans.
“It is pertinent to mention that these veterans are the same soldiers, who have displayed unflinching loyalty towards the Constitution and the Nation during their service and still remain motivated to die for a noble cause. Unfortunately their dignity and pride today stand scarred and is a cause for serious concern,” the letter read.