New Delhi/Jaipur: Hundreds of ex-servicemen took to the streets today across the country protesting delay in the implementation of the 'One Rank, One Pension'(OROP) policy, demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi forthwith fulfil his promise made a year back on it.
The former soldiers have threatened to go an a relay hunger strike from tomorrow and also seek the intervention of President Pranab Mukherjee.
The protests comes after talks -- both formal and back- channel -- with the government failed as the ex-servicemen were not given a specific timeline for the implementation of the long-pending OROP.
In Jaipur, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today sought to assuage their concerns, saying the promises made will be kept and that they should be "patient".
"I assure you whatever we have promised that all would be done... but some people need to be patient," Parrikar said addressing a conference here on challenges and solutions regarding border safety.
Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme which envisages uniform pension for the defence personnel retiring 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 at the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996. The ex-Defence personnel said this policy was "lopsided" and needed to be rectified.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured us that it will be implemented, but it has been one year," said Col. (retd) Anil Kaul, the media advisor to Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) at a rally in Jantar Mantar in the national capital.
Protests were also held in Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and other states covering over 50 cities, he said.
Maj. Gen. (retd) Satbir Singh, vice-chairman of IESM, told the media that the protests will continue till OROP is implemented.
The ex-servicemen maintained that they were not against any government but are pressing to get their long-pending dues.
They also said that they have sought an appointment with the President Pranab Mukherjee to take up this matter.
The Modi government has said that it is committed to OROP, one of its key poll promises, but has been unable to implement it till now, they said.
In his 'Mann Ki Baat' radio talk, Modi had assured ex-servicemen that his government would soon resolve the OROP issue but this has not happened, they lamented.