OROP row: One hospitalised, two more join hunger strike

OROP row: One hospitalised, two more join hunger strike
The agitation for 'One Rank One Pension' aggravated today with one more veteran, who was on fast-unto-death, being hospitalised, even as two more joined the protests amid speculation that implementation of the scheme may be announced this week.

Havaldar (retd) Ashok Singh Chauhan, was taken to the Army Research and Referral (R&R) hospital after suffering from "muscle atrophy", becoming the second veteran in as many days to be hospitalised.

Havaldar (retd) Major Singh, who is also on hunger strike since August 16, refused medical check-up.

Meanwhile, two more veterans, Maj (retd) Pyar Chand and Naik (retd) Uday Singh Rawat, joined the fast-unto-death protest, which entered its ninth day today, at Jantar Mantar.

The protest at Jantar Mantar has been continuing for the past 73 days. The developments came as speculation mounted that government might announce the OROP by August 28, the golden jubilee of the 1965 War with Pakistan.

Sources said back channel talks are underway between the government and the representatives of the ex-servicemen movement to sort out issues delaying OROP. Meanwhile, in a twist, 'Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society', a group of retired jawans and other rank, started a parallel protest during which they accused the 'Union Front of Ex-Serviceman' (UFESM), the main organisation leading the OROP protest, of being an "officers group".

The new group claimed that their interest were not protected by the UFESM while the talks with the government were on.

"Soldiers are the one who constitute more than 98 per cent in the forces and officers only constitute only 2 per cent. They did not put forth our representation while in talks with the government. How can we trust them? OROP should be implemented only after taking our demands into consideration," said Bir Bahadur Singh, President of the Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society.

The 'Union Front of Ex-Serviceman' rubbished the allegations saying the 'Voice of Ex-Servicemen Society' is lying.

Ex-servicemen have been holding protests for over two months seeking the implementation of OROP and are hoping to soon meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Four former service chiefs recently wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, asking him to "urgently intervene" in the OROP row. Ten former Service chiefs, too, have written a joint letter to Modi seeking early implementation of OROP.

Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.

Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.

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