Hundreds of ex-servicemen held a black-flag protest over the delay in implementing one rank, one pension (OROP) in Mohali on Saturday as defence minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated the Mai Bhago Armed Forces Preparatory Institute.
The ex-servicemen from Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula owing allegiance to different associations gathered at Gurdwara Singh Shaheedan on the airport road at Sohana, carrying black flags and raising slogans against the Narendra Modi government.
The protesters were stopped by police that barricaded the road which led to the institute. The demonstration was held 2 km from the institute.
Slogans such as ‘Jai jawan jai kisan...we are not beggars’ echoed during the protest.
“We protest against the NDA’s failure to implement OROP and want to register our anger against the Centre by showing black flags to the minister for his failure to implement the scheme,” said Brigadier Harwant Singh (retd), who is a representative of the United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM). “The defence minister has often mouthed platitudes on implementing OROP soon but has not given a firm date when that ‘soon’ would arrive,” he said.
“Our anger is not against any person but against the government's policy of enormous delay in implementing OROP. We will remain peaceful and disciplined during the demonstration,” he said.
“We are law-abiding citizens and our protest will continue for our genuine demand,” Brig Kuldip Singh Kahlon (retd), the president of the All India Defence Brotherhood said after the two-and-a-half hour protest.
PARRIKAR MUM ON OROP
On his part, Parrikar skipped any mention of OROP while addressing the gathering after inaugurating the Mai Bhago Armed Forces Preparatory Institute, set up by the Punjab government to impart training exclusively to woman aspirants to join the armed forces.
As many as 1,200 security personnel were deployed for the function. The ex-servicemen made a vain attempt to cross the barricades to march to the venue.
25 GIRLS IN FIRST BATCH
Named after the valiant 18th century woman warrior who battled the Mughal armies alongside tenth Sikh master Guru Gobind Singh, the institute offers a three-year undergraduate programme wherein, besides pursuing academics, students will be equipped with skills required to become officers in the army, navy and air force.
For its inaugural batch, the institute has shortlisted 25 girls from nearly 1,700 who had applied for admission. Six among the 25 selected are from defence families.
The institute will function as a counterpart to the existing Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Forces Preparatory Institute for men, also located in Mohali. Deputy commissioner TPS Sidhu said facilities such as a swimming pool, a hockey ground, a basketball court and an open air theatre have been provided. The institute has been built at a cost of Rs 12 crore in Sector 66 and is spread over 8.82 acres.
(With Inputs from PTI)