Monday December 17, 2018
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OROP stir: No breakthrough yet, two more veterans hospitalised

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New Delhi: The 74th day of agitation over delay in One Rank, One Pension  on thursday started on a hopeful note for veterans but there was no breakthrough by evening even as talks at different level within the government continued.

A government team led by Nripendra Misra, the principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is looking into the matter now, said informed sources.

United Forum of Ex-Servicemen chairman Major Gen. Satbir Singh (retd.) told IANS that no breakthrough could be reached on Thursday as Misra did not meet them.

“We could not meet government representatives today since they were with the prime minister. We came to army chief General Dalbir Singh’s office, waited and then came back,” Major Gen. Singh told IANS.

Sources told IANS that the veterans did go for a meeting, but the principal secretary was not present.

“We have urged the army chief to talk with them, and let us know,” said Singh, adding the point of contentions between government and them remain the same as Wednesday.

“The differences remain as they were. If the issue is not resolved the protest will continue… We are holding people back from joining fast unto death…” he said.

Maj. Gen. Singh (retd.) added that they are trying to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday and have sought the army chief’s help for this.

The veterans also said they will boycott all government functions for commemoration of 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.

On Thursday morning, the veterans had expressed hope that a breakthrough will be reached soon over implementing the One Rank, One Pension scheme for them.

“We are hopeful that a breakthrough will be reached soon,” Col Anil Kaul (retd), the spokesperson of the ex-servicemen’s front had told IANS.

The differences between government and veterans on the issue are centered around three major points.

Sources told IANS that the government wants 2011 to be the base year, while the veterans said it should be at the 2014 level, along with a three percent increment every year, which the government was not agreeing to.

Besides, the government wants payments to begin from April 1, 2015 as against the agreed date of April 1, 2014.

If the date of implementation is 2014, the government will have to pay arrears of over Rs.12,000 crore.

Meanwhile, two more army veterans, who are on fast-unto-death, were evacuated from Jantar Mantar on Thursday after their medical condition deteriorated.

“Major Piar Chand (retd) and Havildar Saheb Singh (retd) have been evacuated and are being taken to a hospital,” Kaul told IANS.

Saheb Singh joined the indefinite fast on Monday replacing Col Pushpender Singh (retd), who is still in hospital, while Chand joined the indefinite fast on Tuesday.

Pushpender Singh and Major Singh on Thursday entered the 12th day of their indefinite fast while Havildar Ashok Kumar Chauhan entered the 10th day.

In addition, four more soldiers and the father of a martyred soldier Sunil Kumar Yadav were sitting on indefinite fast, the statement added.

(IANS)

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Korean Soldiers Inspect The Demilitarized Border

The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953

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Korea
North Korean army soldiers are greeted by South Korean army soldiers, wearing helmets, as they cross the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post in Cheorwon. VOA

Soldiers from North and South Korea criss-crossed their heavily-fortified border Wednesday to inspect efforts to remove front-line guard posts from their respective sides.

Inspection teams from South Korea were greeted by North Korean soldiers when they stepped into the Demilitarized Zone early Wednesday, both sides exchanging handshakes and cigarettes before the South Koreans crossed the border to begin their inspections.

The South Koreans visited 11 North Korean guard posts to make sure they had either been dismantled or disarmed, and if any underground structures were left undestroyed. North Korean inspection teams crossed the border hours later to perform similar inspections on 11 South Korean border posts.

Korea
A train transporting dozens of South Korean officials runs on the rails which leads to North Korea, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea. VOA

Despite Wednesday’s action, about 200 manned guard posts still remain along the DMZ.

The border is the world’s most heavily fortified, filled with millions of landmines and marked by long lines of barbed wire fences.

The dismantling of the guard posts in the DMZ was part of a comprehensive military agreement reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their third summit in September at Pyongyang.

Korea
South Korean President Moon Jae-in makes a toast with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a luncheon at Samjiyon Guesthouse in Ryanggang province, North Korea. VOA

The agreement, which is aimed at reducing military tensions on the Korean peninsula, included disarming the Joint Security Area – commonly referred to as the truce village of Panmunjon – including the removal of all landmines, guard posts, surveillance and other military equipment. They also agreed to reduce the number of personnel stationed at the JSA to just 35 unarmed guards, with the aim of reshaping it into a tourist attraction.

Also Read: Donald Trump Open to Meeting Kim Jong-un Again

The Joint Security Area, controlled by both Seoul and Pyongyang along with the U.S.-led United Nations Command, is the only spot within the 250-kilometer-long DMZ where troops from North and South Korea stand face-to-face. The three sides have controlled the area since the end of the Korean War in 1953, leaving North and South Korea in a technical state of war. (VOA)