8:22 pm - Tuesday July 16, 2024

Defence veterans end fast-unto-death, protests to continue

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Defence veterans, who were on fast-unto-death, on Sunday called off their hunger strike following a clarification from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the voluntary retirement issue, a day after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar announced the implementation of One Rank One Pension on Saturday. The fast-unto-death ended on the 22nd day with an assurance from the Prime Minister himself. Colonel Pushpender, Havaldar Major Singh and 12 others called off the fast at Jantar Mantar, as Major General Satbir Singh and other veterans fed them with sweets. This came after Major General Satbir Singh, thanking the Prime Minister for the clarification on the voluntary retirement issue, had said that though the veterans would continue with their protests, those on fast-unto-death would be requested to end their hunger strike. The ex-servicemen also said that the one-man judicial panel with a deadline of six months was also not acceptable to them. According to them, the veterans also need representation in the panel. Major General Singh said that while the protests would continue, they would request protestors, who are on fast-unto-death, to withdraw their hunger strike. This came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday broke his silence on the issue, saying he had fulfilled the promise he made before Lok Sabha elections 2014. Asserting that the government wanted to see the soldiers of the country happy, the Prime Minister assured that they were still willing to look into any unaddressed issue with the help of the one-member judicial panel announced by the government. “I have fulfilled my promise of One Rank One Pension. You have spent your life for this country, we cannot ignore you,” said Modi. Addressing an event in Faridabad for the inauguration of the metro link between Delhi and the Haryana town, the Prime Minister said that ex-servicemen were being misled on the issue of voluntary retirement, adding, “If you have spent 15 years in the service of the nation, you will get the benefit of OROP.” The Prime Minister also used the opportunity to hit out at the opposition, saying those who did not do anything about the issue for 42 years do not have the right to say anything about OROP. Claiming the Congress had planned an OROP scheme worth Rs 500 crore, Modi said that his government had announced the scheme at a cost of Rs 8000-10000 crore. This came after sources in the government suggested no promise to look into the issue of “voluntary retirement” has been made by the Narendra Modi government. According to sources, the government is stern on the announcement that those retiring early due to disability would remain the beneficiary of the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, while those retiring for benefits won’t avail the scheme. Sources further claimed that most of the ex-servicemen unions were happy with the announcement made by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday. “We expect all protestors to celebrate this as no government has done it before,” they said, adding that any anomalies would be taken care of by the one-man judicial commission within six months

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