By NewsGram Staff-Writer
New Delhi: Thousands of army veterans, who organised a rally on Saturday at Jantar Mantar, unanimously rejected the ‘One Rank One Pension’ (OROP) scheme approved by the government and threatened to intensify their agitation if the scheme’s anomalies were not removed.
United Front of Ex-servicemen spokesperson Col Anil Kaul (retd.) said, “We have decided to continue the relay fast. If the government does not remove the anomalies in the scheme, we will intensify the protest” .
He clarified that no new demands were being made, unlike what was being propagated. The united front claimed that about 50,000 army veterans from across the country participated in the rally which was named as ‘Sainik Ekta’ rally.
Col Kaul further alleged that at least 200 buses were stopped at the border of Delhi and thousands were stopped from participating in the rally. He blamed bureaucrats for creating such obstructions. “I wonder how much money they want to save by excluding premature retirements (PMRs),” he said.
Families of the veterans also joined the protests saying the OROP announced by the government was misleading. Laxmi Singh, family member of an ex-servicemen said, “I have come here from Lucknow to protest against the government’s offer. It is misleading. The scheme does not meet our demands in entirety.”
“The government cannot ignore us. We have been on hunger strike since 90 days now. They will have to implement OROP the way we want,” told Surinder Singh, an ex-serviceman.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the expenditure for implementing the OROP will be just 2.2 per cent more than the allocated defence ministry’s budget. He said the OROP would not be “very heavy” for his ministry.
At a seminar organised by industrial chamber FICCI, Parrikar said, “A lot of people said OROP budget is going to be very heavy. I can tell you that total defence outlay was Rs.3.29 lakh crore. So it is only about 2.2 per cent additional expenditure in the defence budget.”
The minister said the cost can be recovered by using “innovative methods”. He said, “And if I can, I promise also, I can bring that amount by saving the wastage or lowering cost by various other methods and by preventing the middlemen from making money in between.”
Later, responding to a question on the ongoing veterans’ agitation, he said: “It is a democratic right (to protest) and you cannot take it away.”
With Inputs from IANS