Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi betrayed soldiers and former servicemen by lying about the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.
The Congress leader also sought a government apology for the police manhandling of the family of retired Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, who committed suicide over the scheme.
Gandhi, who was detained by Delhi Police thrice in two days over the issues, told media here that he met some 80 ex-servicemen and “they said what Modiji is calling OROP is only pension enhancement”.
“Narendra Modiji, you should stop lying and work to implement the OROP,” the Congress leader said.
“If you have implemented OROP, why are they protesting at Jantar Mantar? The truth is that the government of India has not implemented it,” he said, referring to a relay hunger strike that began on Tuesday for rectification of anomalies in the scheme.
The scheme, announced in September 2015, among other measures, is meant to ensure equal pension to servicemen who retired on the same rank and after the same duration of service, regardless of the year of retirement. However, retired soldiers have been alleging that the government has not addressed their concerns fully about disparity in pension payments.
The issue snowballed into a major political war after Grewal, 70, a former Rajputana Rifles subedar, demanding the immediate implementation of the scheme, committed suicide by consuming poison at a Delhi park on November 1.
Gandhi was detained twice on Wednesday as he tried to meet Grewal’s grieving family. Also detained were Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
The Congress leader, who was among politicians that reached Grewal’s village to attend his cremation, was again detained on Wednesday as he tried to join the protest rally of ex-servicemen in Delhi.
He said the ex-servicemen he met on Friday discussed with him issues regarding the government’s claim about the implementation of the scheme.
“The most important thing they said is that it’s not about money but the respect and justice we owe them,” Gandhi said, asking the Prime Minister to grant them “their right and the government has to (do) it.”
“They also said if the government tells us clearly that they can’t pay us our money, then we won’t demand that.”
Recalling how the Delhi Police detained Grewal’s family members at a police station, Gandhi alleged that they were “dragged and beaten”.
“This is not right. No government should ever do it to its people, not to talk about soldiers who give their lives for the nation. The government must apologise,” he added.