Agitating ex-servicemen demanding implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) were today allegedly manhandled by the police as it tried to evict them from protest hotspot Jantar Mantar here ahead of the Independence Day celebrations on the ground of security.
Terming the police action as “barbaric” and “undemocratic”, the ex-servicemen, who have been on protest for nearly two-months, wondered how can they be “security threat” when they dedicated their lives protecting the country while in service.
“How can you doubt our integrity? Or consider us a security threat? We served the country in protecting it and now we have become security threat,” said a protesting army veteran.
It will be a “black Independence Day as they as they have tried to curb our independence,” said group captain V K Gandhi (retired), adding, “The way the police have acted against us just a day before Independence day it is totally unjustified.”
The police said they tried to evict protestors from various outfits from Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital following a request by civic agency New Delhi Municipal Council.
As the police and NDMC started clearing the protest hotspot, the ex-servicemen refused to go away. “I was pushed by the cops who even tore my shirt,” said 82-year-old Vishambhar raising anti-police slogans.
The ex-servicemen requested Police Commissioner B S Bassi to restore their tents.
“This is shocking and obnoxious. Nothing can be worse. We are the protectors of India’s Independence. We are requesting the Police Commissioner to restore our tents since we had permission. The move to remove our tents is barbaric, undemocratic and dictatorial as it comes on the eve of Independence Day,” Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, Chairman of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, told PTI.
A senior police officer said, “As Delhi is on a high alert ahead of Independence Day so we are removing the protestors to ensure security.”
The ex-servicemen later announced that Union Minister V K Singh has conveyed to them that Home Minister Rajnath Singh was informed about the incident and he has instructed the Delhi Police Commissioner to allow them to continue their agitation.
Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju has also asked the Delhi Police Commissioner not to remove the ex-servicemen protesting at Jantar Mantar.
The Narendra Modi government has been maintaining that it is committed to OROP, a key promise made during Lok Sabha polls.
Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for ex-servicemen is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when they had retired.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Arvind Kejriwal came out in support of the ex-servicemen and slammed the police for trying to evict them from Jantar Mantar. He also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce acceptance of their demands of OROP in his Independence Day address tomorrow.
“Ex-servicemen being forcibly thrown out of jantar mantar? Bizarre.They protected us till yest. Now they r security threat for independence day? (sic),” Kejriwal said in a tweet.
“I wud urge Hon’ble PM to announce acceptance of the demand of OROP of our ex servicemen from Red Fort tomo, (sic),” Kejriwal said in another tweet.