The OROP movement had been a unified protest under Major General Satbir Singh until now but recently, it seems to be developing an offshoot.
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.
Indian police on Tuesday fired tear gas and water cannons to halt and scatter a march by thousands of protesting farmers heading for the capital New Delhi to demand better prices for their produce.
Reeling from a crash in commodity prices, more than 50,000 farmers from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, a top producer of wheat and cane, blocked part of the main highway to the capital.
They also sought loan waivers, cheaper power and tougher action to get sugar mills to pay dues owed for their cane, as discontent in rural areas turns to anger against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who faces tough general elections next year.
“Despite our repeated requests, the government has failed to help farmers in any meaningful ways,” a farm leader, Dharmendra Malik, told Reuters by telephone from the protest site.
“Left with no choice, we’ve decided to march to Delhi to highlight our plight.”
Cash-strapped sugar companies owe cane growers about 135 billion rupees ($1.9 billion) in the current season. Saddled with huge piles of sugar and hit by a fall in prices, mills have said they are unable to pay farmers on time.
“The state government has initiated a number of steps to help farmers, including a clutch of measures to expedite cane payments to growers,” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told video news agency ANI, a Reuters affiliate.
Mills are struggling to export sugar because of lower global prices, Adityanath said.
Television broadcast images of angry farmers clashing with police and driving their tractors into security barriers, in a protest that disrupted rush-hour traffic.
Some farmers were injured when police fired tear gas and water cannon to keep protesters from breaking through barricades to reach New Delhi, the site of events to mark the birth anniversary of India’s apostle of non violence, Mahatma Gandhi.
“It’s ironical that the farmers were brutally beaten on the day of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary,” opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said.
Farmers had started trickling into the city late on Monday, prompting authorities to bar gatherings of more than four people.
The government has allowed police to “brutally beat up” the farmers, said the opposition Congress party, which ruled India for most of its 70 years since independence from Britain, before losing power to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.