Third Army Veteran Joins Indefinite Hunger Strike Over One Rank One Pension

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Third Army Veteran Joins Indefinite Hunger Strike Over One Rank One Pension

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A third Army veteran has joined an indefinite hunger strike at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, over non-implementation of One Rank One Pension

New Delhi:  There are now three Army veterans on an indefinite hunger strike at Delhi's Jantar Mantar in protest against the delay in implementing One Rank One Pension or OROP.

Retired Havildar Ashok Kumar Chouhan of the Signal Regiment this morning joined Col Pushpendra Singh (retd) of the 3 Grenadiers and Havaldar Major Singh of the 3rd Sikh Regiment in what they are calling a "fast unto death" at the venue of a two-month-long protest to demand OROP.

More ex-servicemen could join the fast, organisers of the protest said today.

Col Singh and Havildar Major Singh, who began their hunger strike on Monday, have said they were forced to escalate matters after Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to announce OROP in his Independence Day speech on Saturday.

The announcement was widely expected to be the show stopper in the PM's address from the Red Fort, but a mention of OROP came only towards the end when PM Modi acknowledged that the government was yet to resolve OROP, but promised a resolution soon.

"It was a demoralising factor for us," said Col Singh on Monday. This morning, organisers of the protest said the three veterans on hunger strike would not speak "to conserve energy."

Ten former service chiefs have also written to PM Modi expressing "dismay" over the government's handling of OROP. "The respect and dignity of the soldier is at stake here and let it be known that we have extreme concern for the veterans' long pending demands... "the former chiefs wrote, adding, "We would strongly urge the Government to settle this issue expeditiously and in an urgent time frame."

OROP is expected to benefit more than three million retired servicemen. It will give equal pension to servicemen retiring at the same rank regardless of when they retire. At present, a soldier who retired many years ago is paid far less than someone several ranks junior to him retiring now.

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