New Delhi: For the last 77 days, veterans have been voicing their demand for the One Rank One Pension scheme at the Jantar Mantar in the heart of Delhi.
The protest has taken its toll - six veterans who had been on fast have been taken to hospital. The latest being Bal Singh, a 70-year-old veteran with a heart condition who collapsed on the stage today and had to be rushed to hospital.
Others like Major General Satbir Singh who have been managing the microphone, bringing updates to those present on the latest developments in talks with the government or just trying to keep spirits up, is now on the verge of losing his voice but is still not showing any signs of giving up.
Help for the veterans has been coming from all quarters. While the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara has been sending langar twice a day, others have been donating boxes of bottled water and money. Today a young author, Bhaavna Arora, pledged the earnings from her book to support the ongoing protest at Jantar Mantar.
"My dad and grandfather were in the Army and I feel that if the government can sanction 1 lakh 25 thousand crores ahead of elections in Bihar surely they can give 8,000 crores to their jawans," Ms Arora told NDTV. Titled 'Mistress of Honour', the book is inspired by life in the Army, she says.
Ms Arora isn't the only one. Donations have been coming in from across the country. Lieutenant General RS Sujlana, a former commandant of the IMA, arrived with a cheque of Rs 7,50,000 donated by his batch mates and jawans who took part in the 1971 war.
Despite several rounds of discussions with the government, there has been no breakthrough on OROP. PM Modi while referring to the contributions of the veterans today in the 1965 war did not mention OROP.
While the government in the past has emphasized that it was committed to OROP, actress and rights campaigner Nafisa Ali whose husband 'Pickles Sodhi' was retired from the Army, reacting to the PM's radio address appealed to Mr Modi, "It's the bureaucrats who are blocking OROP, only PM Modi's bulldozer can work to help implement this long pending demand."