Amritsar Congress MP and former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday said that the Narendra Modi government could not be indifferent to veterans’ demand for one rank, one pension (OROP) and mark the golden jubilee of the 1965 victory over Pakistan at the same time.
Expressing disappointment over the delay in implementing OROP that the veterans have been fasting for at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, Amarinder tweeted, “Govt can’t be indifferent to army veterans and mark 50 years of ’65 war at the same time. Stop this hypocrisy #OROP”.
This is not the first time that Amarinder, a former aide-de-camp (ADC) to then Western Command army commander Lt Gen Harbakhsh Singh, has expressed his solidarity with veterans on OROP. On August 24 when one of the veterans was hospitalised, he had tweeted: “The unfortunate events of this hunger strike could have been avoided by the timely implementation of #OROP.”
OROP solution 'in sight'
Meanwhile, after a meeting with top government officials in South Block on Wednesday, veterans demanding OROP indicated that the Centre said could accept their demands and a breakthrough in talks to resolve the logjam appeared to be “in sight.” The meeting took place in the office of the PM’s principal secretary Nripendra Misra, who had earlier held talks with ex-servicemen on August 18.
Major General Satbir Singh (retd), who heads the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said, “The talks were held in a good environment. The implementation of OROP as per our definition now appears to be in sight.”
Army chief General Dalbir Singh, who is helping both sides reconcile differences on OROP, was present at the meeting. The veterans have also had talks with national security adviser Ajit Doval. Talks with top officials were held on Tuesday too.
The ex-servicemen have made it clear to the government that they will not accept any dilution of their demands. Satbir Singh said 2013-14 would be the base year for the implementation of the OROP and payments would be made retrospectively from April 1, 2014. Veterans, who are hopeful of a meeting with the PM soon, stressed no compromise formula would be acceptable.
As many as 10 former chiefs had last week warned the government against a further delay in granting OROP last week, saying it would erode the military’s morale and pride. Four ex-chiefs had earlier written to the president on the issue.
The scheme, expected to benefit 30 lakh pensioners, would guarantee equal pension to military personnel retiring in the same rank with same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement.