The deadlock over 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) persisted today with Government seeking "some more time" for implementing it after the agitating veterans rejected its latest offer on resolving the vexed issue over which they started protests 75 days ago.
"Whatever they have finally offered is not acceptable to us. Yesterday what was told to us is nowhere close to the definition" that had been decided and accepted by Parliament," Maj Gen Satbir Singh (Retd), Chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement said.
"Hundreds of veterans who participated in the 1965 war with Pakistan joined the protest and boycotted the Golden jubilee programme organised by the government," a statement by the United Front of Ex-Servicemen, the umbrella organisation of veterans leading the OROP protest, said.
However, the Defence Ministry in the evening released pictures showing some veterans at the wreath-laying ceremony organised at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who met the veterans earlier in the day, later held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During his meeting with veterans, Rajnath assured them that necessary action will be taken by the government which has already in-principle accepted their demand.
"Work is on to find out a solution but it needs some more time", he told the veterans, official sources said.
Satbir said that the ex-servicemen have turned down government's offer to increase pension every five years instead of doing it annually. "They were saying it will be done after five years which is totally incorrect because it will defeat the very definition of OROP," Satbir said.
"We are also firm on our stand that the base year has to be 2013-14 and that payment should begin from April 1, 2014. OROP should not be left to the 7th Pay Commission and the definition has to be the same as accepted by Parliament," he said.
Government had been insisting that 2011 be made the base year while making it clear that there will be no three per cent annual increase. It also wants payment to begin from April 1, 2015, which has been rejected by the veterans.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar drew flak from the veterans for his remarks that Government needs "some time" to fill "small gaps" for implementation of OROP.
"Now the small gaps are being filled. Give it some time for completion. In principle, the Prime Minister on August 15 (Independence Day Speech) has given his approval. Now, PMO is directly involved...then by saying that do it in these many days will not help. "All efforts are being made to solve the issue," he said.
The protesters said they are "disheartened" by Parrikar's remarks to reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
"What Raksha Mantri said, I'm rather disheartened. He is now saying that there are gaps. He cannot say anything that is totally different than what was told to us all these days," Satbir said.