New Delhi: Armed forces veterans say they will today begin returning medals they have been awarded in service of the country, despite the government hurrying over the weekend to issue a notification on One Rank One Pension or OROP, their demand for many years.
The veterans say they are unhappy with the OROP package announced by the government, which has said pensions will be equalised every five years.
"The OROP notification violates the Parliament order, misleads people and is against national security," Major General Satbir Singh (retd), who is leading OROP protests told NDTV today.
The ex-servicemen want pensions to be equalised every year. Also, the OROP notification says soldiers who opt for pre-mature retirement or leave the forces without completing their full term, will not qualify for OROP. The veterans oppose this.
Not all ex-servicemen are, however, joining the latest protest. The Indian Ex Servicemen League - one of biggest and oldest bodies - will stay away. "I don't want soldiers to be involved in un-soldier activity. The dharna sends a wrong signal not only nationally but internationally as well," Lieutenant General Balbir Singh (retd) of the league told NDTV.
General Singh said that returning medals "at this juncture," could have political connotations and the military should stay away from that. The decision to return medals comes amid several writers, filmmakers and other artists returning prestigious awards to protest against what they call "growing intolerance."
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar indicated that the government is in no mood to be pressured any longer. "In a democracy people can demand whatever they want, not everything can be met," he said today.
On Sunday, in the final step to implement the scheme, the government notified OROP, which provides that armed personnel of the same rank will draw the same pension regardless of when they retired.
The announcement last week that the veterans would return medals was seen as a move to pressure the government into notifying OROP before Diwali as it had promised.