Seeking their "promised dues", ex-servicemen across the country on Monday began their relay hunger strike demanding that the government should announce a date for the implementation of the One Rank, One Pension policy.
In the national capital, a group of 55 ex-servicemen from Jalandhar district of Punjab sat on the hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, where hundreds of retired defence personnel had on Sunday held a protest and sought President Pranab Mukherjee's intervention on their behalf.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has given an assurance that the "promises" made would be kept and the retired servicemen should be "patient".
"The indefinite hunger strike has begun in various cities. We will not budge till our dues are cleared," said media adviser to Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) Colonel Anil Kaul (retd).
The Narendra Modi government had said it was committed to OROP, introducing which was one of its key poll promises. But it has been unable to implement it till now. In his 'Mann Ki Baat' radio talk, Modi had promised ex-servicemen that his government would soon resolve the OROP issue, but it has not happened, said the protesting ex-servicemen.
Even though the government has said it is committed to implementing the OROP, there has been no official word on why the scheme is getting delayed, they added.
Defence ministry sources said the OROP file was with the Union finance ministry for a final budgetary approval.
Around 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the 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. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.