Former Army Officer on OROP Fast Hospitalised

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Col (retd) Pushpinder Singh being taken to the hospital.

New Delhi:  Colonel Pushpendra Singh, one of the retired military officers on a fast-unto-death over the One Rank One Pension issue, or OROP, was rushed to the hospital after his health deteriorated today.

He has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of the Army's Research and Referral Hospital as a precautionary measure. Doctors said he is stable.

Col Singh, 63, who retired from the Army's Granediers Regiment, had been fasting for a week at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar along with Havildar Major Singh. He has been replaced on the fast by another ex-serviceman.

The army veterans had gone on indefinite hunger strike on August 17 - as the protests demanding the implementation of OROP escalated on Independence Day.

Veterans had hoped Prime Minister Modi would announce One Rank One Pension in his Independence Day address to the Nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort. The assurance from the PM on OROP, however, had failed to satisfy them.

Two days later, 10 former service chiefs wrote to PM Modi, expressing "dismay" over the government's handling of the issue. The letter also mentioned the efforts by the police and civic officials to remove the protesters from the site as part of the security arrangements for the Independence Day.

As the Prime Minister's Office stepped in the next day, the army veterans agreed not to escalate their agitation for the next 10 days. But the three ex-servicemen had refused to call off their hunger strike.

On Sunday, Mrinalini Singh, daughter of Union minister and former armyman General VK Singh had joined the protest, saying she would also ask her father to join the cause.    

The implementation of OROP has been on hold over what the Prime Minister had called "nitty gritty details" in his Independence Day speech.

"It has been stuck for 20 years... Even I haven't been able to solve it yet," he had said, But he added that the government was committed and was "in the final stages of deciding".

The ex-servicemen want the same pension as those of the same rank who are retiring now. The veterans want pensions benchmarked at the 2014 rates and reject the government offer of 2011 rates. Government sources say it would mean an expenditure of Rs. 20,000 crore instead of the expected Rs. 8,000 crore.

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