Taking exception to defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s remarks against the agitation of ex-servicemen for a better deal under the ‛one rank, one pension’ (OROP) scheme, the Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Capt Amarinder Singh, has said it can affect the morale of today’s soldiers, who are tomorrow’s ex-servicemen.
In a letter to the defence minister, Amarinder referred to his recent statements in which he had declined more concessions on OROP and claimed that the behaviour of the protesting ex-servicemen was not soldier-like. “This is adding insult to the injury,” Amarinder stated on Thursday here, adding: “If this country has an institution that is completely loyal and disciplined, it is our armed forces.”
Sharing the sentiments of the ex-servicemen who returned their medals in protest against the deal that was given to them, Amarinder said: “This is the ultimate they can do. These medals are a soldier’s prized possession and not government charity. These were won on the battlefield for gallantry or distinguished service, and are worn with pride. This is all a soldier has after spending a entire life in the defence of the country. I hope this will bring home to you the deep hurt, anguish and humiliation faced by all who once donned the uniform of our country,” he told the defence minister.
Making a strong case for undiluted OROP, the former Punjab chief minister told Parrikar: “Your government gives Rs 125 lakh crore to Bihar and Rs 80,000 crore to Jammu and Kashmir but denies an extra Rs 1,000 crore to the patriots who helped keep J&K in this country by shedding their blood and sweat over the past 68 years. Does any day pass without newspapers carrying the pictures of coffins wrapped in Tricolour arriving from Kashmir?”
He said if the government could agree to pay Rs 8,000 crore, how much difference would an extra Rs 1,000 crore make. “Does annual equalisation pose much of a problem for your ministry, full of bureaucrats?” he said, warning the minister “not to be misled by bureaucrats”.