By Manas Dwivedi
Differences are anticipated to crop up at Jantar Mantar as soldiers and lower ranked defence officials have started a separate protest of their own. What makes these two protests different from each other is not just the gap in their ranks but also their demands.
While on one hand the officers are following a 4-point agenda for demanding their needs, the soldiers, on the other are depicting their ‘pain’ through a letter posted outside their camp. One of the demands by the officers says that they should be paid better than the soldiers retiring after them. The soldiers and lower ranked officers are stating the miseries faced by them while working with the officers.
An ex-armyman, Harbhal Singh in the soldier’s camp has decided to fast till death and pen down his present condition in a declaration letter. Sustaining major injuries in battle, Singh had lost a leg in Jammu & Kashmir. He told NewsGram that the soldiers were constrained to sit at Jantar Mantar for demanding their rights as many of them have been humiliated by the officers at every step. He blamed the government for only listening to officers and ignoring the lower rank soldiers.
Major General Satbir Singh, convener of the ex-servicemen movement termed the gathering at officer’s podium as ‘sainik parliament’ where everyone’s view is heard and respected. Six ex-servicemen are on an indefinite fast, out of which two have been hospitalised with deteriorating health. General Satbir denied negotiating on the original set of demands, but he didn’t question the demands made by the soldiers.
The issue is not a matter of conflict here, but it certainly draws attention to the growing wedge between ex-soldiers and officers of the country. The demand of OROP is acute and very much reasonable too. People from both the categories are integral to the nation’s sovereignty.
The veterans have been vigorously protesting for the implementation of one rank one pension (OROP) from past 74 days now.