OROP protests: 1 veteran hospitalised, 2 join hunger strike
Havaldar (retd) Ashok Chauhan, on a fast-unto-death since August 18 over the non-implementation of the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme, was on Tuesday taken to the army hospital after his health deteriorated.india Updated: Aug 25, 2015 21:43 IST
Two ex-servicemen joined the veteran, who is now hospitalised, in the hunger strike to demand the implementation of 'One Rank One Pension' initiative to be launched by the government, amid speculation that the scheme may be announced this week.
Havaldar (retd) Ashok Singh Chauhan, was taken to the Army Research and Referral (R&R) hospital after suffering from 'muscle atrophy', becoming the second veteran in as many days to be hospitalised.
Havaldar (retd) Major Singh, who is also on hunger strike since August 16, refused medical check-up.
Meanwhile, two more veterans, Major (retd) Pyar Chand and Naik (retd) Uday Singh Rawat, joined the fast-unto-death protest, which entered its ninth day on Tuesdau, at Jantar Mantar.
The protest at Jantar Mantar has been continuing for the past 73 days.
The developments came as speculation mounted that government might announce the OROP by August 28, the golden jubilee of the 1965 War with Pakistan.
Sources said back channel talks are underway between the government and the representatives of the ex-servicemen movement to sort out issues delaying OROP.
Meanwhile, in a twist, Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society, a group of retired jawans and other rank, initiated a parallel protest where they accused the Union Front of Ex-Serviceman (UFESM), the primary organisation leading the OROP protest, of being an "officers group".
The new group claimed that their interests were not protected by the UFESM while talks with the government were on.
"Soldiers are the one who constitute more than 98% in the forces and officers constitute only 2%. They did not put forth our representation while in talks with the government. How can we trust them? OROP should be implemented only after taking our demands into consideration," said Bir Bahadur Singh, president of the Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society.
The Union Front of Ex-Serviceman rubbished the allegations, saying the Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society is lying.
Meanwhile, former defence personnel are hoping to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon while four former service chiefs recently wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, asking him to "urgently intervene" in the OROP row.
Ten former service chiefs, too, have written a joint letter to Modi seeking early implementation of the scheme.
Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for 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 retired.