The government on Saturday evening "indicated" that premature retirees will not be left out of the 'One Rank One Pension', thus addressing a major contentious issue between the two sides.
This was conveyed to a delegation of ex-servicemen led by major general (retd) Satbir Singh who met defence minister Manohar Parrikar and minister of state for information and broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Satbir Singh said they were "satisfied" with the government's clarification on "VRS" which would affect at least 40% of defence personnel. Both sides still differ on a few other major features of the government's OROP announcement.
"Defence minister has confirmed that there is no VRS in defence services and so OROP will be applicable in PMR (pre-mature retirement). An official note would be given in a day or two after having a word with the Prime Minister. Parrikar has confirmed that he would give a clarification tomorrow evening or day after tomorrow. As far as defence minister and we are concerned that clause goes," Singh told reporters.
Minister Rathore said, "Any premature retirement which is valid and legally acceptable to the armed forces will be given 'One Rank One Pension'."
PTI quoted Singh as saying that the core group of agitating army veterans would take a fresh call on continuing with their agitations. But TV channels reported there would be no rethink as the government had not conceded to the other demands.
The confusion over "VRS" came after Parrikar said defence personnel who take "voluntary retirement" will not be covered under OROP.
OROP, that implies uniform pension for armed forces personnel retiring in the same rank with a same length of service, would be implemented from July 1, 2014 on the basis of calender year 2013.
Arrears, estimated to cost between Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 12,000 crore, would be paid in four half-yearly instalments. However, all widows, including war widows, will be paid in one instalment.
The pension would be revised every five years, while the ex-servicemen are still demanding a yearly review.
The veterans are also unhappy over the government's decision to institute a one-member judicial committee to report within six months after examining various aspects. They want a five-member panel comprising mostly ex-servicemen.
Ex-servicemen who have been on an agitation for the past 84 days, took no time in rejecting the government's announcement and declaring that they will continue the stir. They also announced a massive rally on September 12.
(With inputs from agencies)