OROP row: Irked by govt, military vaterans to return medals today

Retired military personnel are set to return their medals on Tuesday to protest against the government notification on implementation of the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme, which they have rejected.

The move is also a response to defence minister Manohar Parrikar ’s remarks that not all the demands of the veterans can be met.

In Delhi, medals will be returned outside the busy terminal 1 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA). Group captain (retired) VK Gandhi, general secretary of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said veterans would return medals at crowded places to educate the common man about the issue.

“We reject the OROP notification by the government. We will continue with (our) agitation and intensify it further,” he said.

“Will request all ex-servicemen to return their medals and explain to citizens that OROP has not been given to us…The OROP notification issued by the government doesn’t meet the definition of one rank, one pension. In fact, it murders the definition of OROP,” Gandhi told ANI.

The government on Saturday formally notified the OROP scheme that will benefit more than 2.4 million veterans and 600,000 war widows. However, the scheme was rejected by former military personnel, who launched a movement earlier this year to pressure the government to accept their demands.

The OROP scheme is aimed at ensuring that all retired personnel, who have the same rank and length of service, receive the same amount of pension, irrespective of their date of retirement.

Under the existing policy, military personnel who retired before 2006 receive less pension than those who retired later.

Earlier, Gandhi told the media that the government had “inserted provisions” into the notification that had complicated the issue. “We want OROP as per the definition. No junior should get more pension than his senior,” he said.

Veterans will start returning their medals during November 10-11 and district magistrates across the country have been informed about the protest, he said.

Defence minister Parrikar has said that everyone has the right to make a demand in a democracy but not all demands can be fulfilled. He said “maximum” demands of the veterans had been fulfilled and a judicial commission to be set up by the government will look into their problems.

The veterans have also met Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and briefed him about the OROP issue. “He has said in the coming days, he will take up the issue, address a press conference and visit the protesting ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar,” Gandhi said after meeting Kejriwal.

Parrikar has said pensions will be calculated by taking the mean of the minimum and maximum pensions drawn by similarly placed veterans in 2013, with those drawing higher sums than the average being protected. The veterans want the government to ensure that the formula for reworking pensions offers maximum parity.

(With inputs from agencies)

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