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Can Modi take soldiers too for a ride?

Posted in View Point

Published on August 21, 2015 with No Comments

Their wait has been endless, and tiring too. They have stood guard at the incommodious borders waiting for that golden moment when he would get a chance to see the new born kid, or to clear tears of lamenting mother at the loss of the father; to ensure that nation called India that has the most hostile neighbours could sleep with peace. Their wait continues this too, for getting the right full pension based on the equality of the rank. Regimented that they are, the veterans many of them octogenarian and beyond have been carrying out a peaceful protest in the form of a relay hunger strike in nations capital, at a walking distance from the centre of power. On the 62nd day of the protest, the eve of the 69th independence of day; when the veterans were expecting the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to announce the implementation of the One Rank One Pension (OROP), not only the veterans but also the nation too witnessed assault on the retired soldiers and officers by the cops of the Delhi police.

The veterans were hackled, their clothes torn, gallantry medals thrown as garbage on one of the most auspicious days in the national calendar. The day may down in the history of India as yet another black day.

The veterans were sitting on a chain hunger strike for 62 days who had gathered in a peaceful and legally-sanctioned protest for a cause that cannot possibly be more legitimate than anything-seeking one rank on pension. All these days, no leader bothered to even pay them a visit. Independent India’s freely-elected government could stoop so low as to unleash its agents of terror against its own military veterans, was beyond comprehension and not to give in to the treacherous way of the Modi government, two of the veterans have now gone on fast unto death, and a third one joining as we go to the print.

Treating veterans in irresponsible fashion is just another culmination of yet another series of list of broken commitments and promises of the Narendra Modi government.  Prime Minister Modi put his own and his party’s endorsement on OROP by promising it on a number of times in the run-up to last year’s general elections. The BJP’s official manifesto also made an unconditional commitment. An even more interestingly, the Supreme Court, too, ordered the grant of OROP, and the Union of India is now facing contempt proceedings in the apex court for not implementing its verdict.


What the veterans are witnessing today, are a triple subduing of natural justice, violation of a Report of Parliament, decision of the Supreme Court and specific electoral promises made on numerous occasions. To add insult to the injury, the government ordered a lathi charge on veterans who were in a legal and peaceful assembly to demand their legitimate dues on the pretext of “securing the place for independence day.” There could never be a bizarre explanation than this. Feeling a security threat from those have stood guards at the borders for years, who have their next generations serving the forces!

The only reason for the delay as per the rulers is that they are working out the details. The “details” perhaps here means that some bureaucrat has been advised to sit on the matter to further tweak the rights of the veterans, delay the justice and right of equality to the soldiers. The defence minister has assured that the OROP would be awarded within the term of this government, expecting the soldiers to wait it 2019; while the IAS lobby has already awarded themselves an equivalent of OROP in the form of NFU-the Non Functional Upgradation. In order to add every possible element that could delay the OROP, the government has given ample hint that it would want the paramilitary forces also be given the benefit of OROP. Railway employees too have now raised the demand for the same. It took the army veterans 40 years to make the rulers in India agree to OROP, with more stakeholders being added to the same, the fight for getting their right dues seems to go longer. The soldiers scarified their sleep, had to bear separation from the family; many were not there to say good bye to their loved ones, were not there to welcome their child. “For Whom?” The veterans are asking now. To be manhandled by cops, under the direction of political bosses, who expect even the soldiers to come with a begging bowl.

OROP has been crammed by the political parties; and the veterans are now beginning to witness the lack of true will for the ruling party to implement the same. Congress announced the implementation of OROP just few days before the general elections of 2014 knowing very well that the nation would never be in a condition to meet the additional requirement of Rs 18000 crore per year, and the subsequent government would not be in a condition to meet the needs. Narendra Modi as a prospective prime ministerial candidate known for not consulting senior party leaders on the various election promises, too jumped the gun and announced the commitment of his party to implement the same. Now having tested the waters, the government and BJP both are finding a way out. A way to come out of the commitment to fulfil the OROP, while a will is required to stand and deliver on the promise.


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