Ex-servicemen at the OROP protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar. (Press Trust of India)
Ten former defence chiefs have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing concern at the delay in implementing One Rank One Pay or OROP and also severely criticising the police action on veterans on protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar
on the eve of Independence Day.
Among those who have sent the open letter to the Pm are seven former Army chiefs - General VN Sharma, General Shankar Roy Choudhary, General S Padmanabhan, General NC Vij, General JJ Singh, General Deepak Kapoor and General Bikram Singh - two former Air Force chiefs - Air Chief Marshal NC Suri and Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi - and a former Navy chief, Admiral Madhvendera Singh.
This is the full text of their letter:
We, the Former Chiefs of the three Defence Services are deeply perturbed and distressed by the highhanded treatment of our veterans on 14 August 2015 at Jantar Mantar. These veterans have been on a peaceful demonstration at this venue and have been trying to make the Government hear their voice since 12 June 2015. We unequivocally condemn the action by the Police and urge the Government to investigate and take immediate action.
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.
We had earlier not approached the Hon'ble 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. Also, the highhanded attitude of the Police on 14 August has prompted us to raise this issue to your esteemed office.
There is only one definition of "One Rank One Pension" and that has been accepted both by the current and previous Parliaments and also by the Raksha Mantri in the presence of the Veterans. This is "uniform pension to be paid to the Armed Forces personnel 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.
Raksha Mantri had also after consultations with the Services Headquarters representatives, Veterans and MoD Officials approved a Rs 8300 Cr - Model in Feb 2014 based on formula of maximum pension data 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 Govt. 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.
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. Our silence so far was due to the need to observe propriety. As much as the OROP, the respect and dignity of the soldier is at stake here and let it be known that we have extreme concern for the Veteran's 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 the veterans and lowering the morale of the Armed Forces. The Nation can ill afford such an imbroglio.