A 70-year-old army veteran, who was on a relay hunger strike in New Delhi as part of the agitation by veterans for early implementation of one rank, one pension (OROP), on Sunday collapsed on stage and was rushed to the army hospital where, his condition is said to be stable.
The incident took place even as the protest by ex-servicemen entered its 77th day.
Havildar Bal Singh was rushed to the Army Research and Referral Hospital after his health took a turn for the worst and he fainted.
The incident happened a day after the ex-servicemen wrote a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, stating that he and the government would be held responsible if any untoward incident happened.
The government had on Saturday night said that it had “significantly narrowed down gaps” with the agitating veterans but held out no concrete assurances over the vexed issue.
Representatives of the veterans also held a meeting with Army Chief Dalbir Singh at his house earlier on Sunday.
“It was a routine meeting and nothing more. We met at his house,” Lt Gen Balbir Singh (Retd), president of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, told PTI. Close to 22 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she has retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lt Colonel who retired after 1996.