Defence personnel on Sunday called off their fast-unto-death after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the one-rank, one-pension (OROP) scheme would cover premature retirees too, but decided to continue protesting at Jantar Mantar till all their demands were met.
The Centre had announced the implementation of the scheme on Saturday.
Welcoming the Prime Minister’s clarification on what was a major sticking point in the stand-off between the government and veterans, Major General (retd) Satbir Singh, who is leading the agitation, opposed the revision of pensions every five years, demanding a yearly review instead.
“We have called off the fast unto death but protests, including relay hunger strike, will continue till all our major demands are met,” Singh said as 14 veterans ended their fast, marking the first step towards reconciliation in an agitation that has spanned over two months.
Singh, however, said the veterans would be “forced” to resume their “hunger strike till death” if there was no satisfactory resolution to pending issues. He added that a massive “Gaurav rally” would be organised here on September 12.
The government’s decision to appoint a one-member judicial commission to examine various aspects of the OROP has also been rejected by the ex-servicemen as they demanded a five-member committee comprising three ex-servicemen, one serving member from the armed forces and a representative from the defence ministry.
Addressing a press conference at Jantar Mantar, Singh said the committee should function directly under the defence minister and submit its report within one month.
Singh said it was agreed during the negotiations that the base year for calculation of pension would be 2013-14 and not calender year 2013.
Pressing for March 31, 2014 as base date, he said if the government sticks to the calender year, then December 31 should be the basis for fixing the benefits. “We are confident that in the next 15 days or a month the government will issue a letter about OROP implementation. If it goes against our satisfaction, we will resume our hunger strike till death,” Singh said.