Rahul asks PM to set date for OROP implementation

Rahul asks PM to set date for OROP implementation

Wading into One Rank One Pension (OROP) stir, Rahul Gandhi today asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce a date for implementation of the demand of agitating ex-servicemen, hours after they were manhandled by police who evicted them from Jantar Mantar citing security concerns on the eve of Independence Day.

On its part, the government said there are "technical difficulties" in implementing OROP but asserted that it was committed to fulfilling its promise on the issue.

After the police action against the former defence personnel, who have been protesting for 62 days, the Congress Vice President joined the them and demanded a definite date from the Prime Minister to implent OROP.

Indicating that some issues still need to thrashed out, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said there are "technical difficulties" in implementing OROP.

"We will fulfil the assurances that we have given in this regard... When we have said this, the government has to do it within its tenure and we will do it quite early. We are bound by our assurance," Parrikar said in Dehradun.

Accusing the Prime Minister of not implementing his election promise, Gandhi said Modi should have thought of technicalities on OROP before making the promise. He said Modi "makes promises very easily but fails to fulfil them."

As police action against the ex-servicemen evoked sharp criticism, the law enforcing agency, following direction from Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, backed off and allowed the agitators to continue their protest.

Terming the police action as "barbaric" and "undemocratic", the ex-servicemen wondered how can they be "security threat" when they had dedicated their lives protecting the country.

"How can you doubt our integrity? Or consider us a security threat? We served the country in protecting it and now we have become security threat," said a protesting army veteran.

The police said they tried to evict protestors from various outfits from Jantar Mantar on security grounds.

As the police and NDMC started clearing the protest hotspot, the ex-servicemen refused to go away. "I was pushed by the cops who even tore my shirt," said 82-year-old Vishambhar raising anti-police slogans.

It will be a "black Independence Day as they as they have tried to curb our independence," said group captain V K Gandhi (retired), adding, "The way the police have acted against us just a day before Independence day it is totally unjustified."

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, "The government is completely committed to the OROP principle. It's only the arithmetical translation of that principle. Because several interpretations are being given which are being worked out."

The Congress Vice President disapproved of the police action, saying those who protect the country must be respected.

"The reality is that our Prime Minister makes promises very easily but he fails to fulfil them. He had promised jobs to youths but 'Make in India' did not succeed. He had promised to clean India. But Swatch Bharat did not yield results.

"He had promised his corporate friends that he will get them the Land Bill approved. But it did not happen. Similarly, he had also promised to implement OROP but it has not materialised," Gandhi said.

Some of the protesters later said the Congress leader should have raised the issue in Parliament instead of coming to Jantar Mantar.

Delhi Chief Arvind Kejriwal also came out in support of the ex-servicemen and requested the Prime Minister to announce implementation of OROP in his Independence Day address tomorrow.

"Ex-servicemen being forcibly thrown out of Jantar Mantar? Bizarre.They protected us till yest. Now they r security threat for independence day? (sic)," Kejriwal said in a tweet.
"I wud urge Hon'ble PM to announce acceptance of the demand of OROP of our ex servicemen from Red Fort tomo, (sic)," Kejriwal said in another tweet.

The Modi government has been maintaining that it is committed to OROP, a key promise made during Lok Sabha polls.

Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be 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.

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