OROP: 1.0 IS SUSPENDED.
320 DAYS OF CLASS STOICISM
A red letter day in the history of veterans of independent India came to a close around 1700 hours on 29th April.
This marked the announcement of the suspension of RHS for a reasonable period of time to accede to the wishes of the government of India to resolve the leftover issues in implementation of OROP in its acceptable form and justifiable award to all stakeholders.
As per honourable Raksha Mantri, the proverbial “gun that was being held to the heads of the Government of India” by virtue of our presence at Jantar Mantar has now been removed suo moto by the veterans allowing him to now keep up his end of the promise.
In a short but spirited address to the gathering at Jantar Mantar, Mr. Ram Jethmalani , MP dedicated the rest of his life in fighting for the just cause of the veterans in the court of law towards which suitable documentation will be completed within the week. At the same time, he made a fervent plea to the gathering to suspend all further form of agitation at Jantar Mantar till some response was forthcoming.
It was also announced that the current method of protest may have to be changed and therefore mid-course corrections will be considered and applied for such changes to be taken. Also, that the vote bank of ex-servicemen has now become a matter of concern and it seems that the ensurance of acceptance of veterans’ issues would take on this path irrespective of these states that are heading towards assembly elections in the next couple of years.
Subsequently, based on a decision taken by the Governing Body of the IESM with regard to further method of agitation, Chairman IESM Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh announced the suspension of Relay Hunger Strike with immediate effect at around 1630 hours today. This was followed by the traditional breaking of the fast by giving juice to those who were sitting on the relay. It may be pertinent to note that there are unheard names of simple veterans and their families who have participated whole-heartedly over the last 320 days. Even today, it was heartening to note that there was a representation of veterans from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan and several other states. There were however, voices of discord amongst the gathering on the proposed action and it is with deference to both our peers and seniors who have advocated suspension as also in view of the sentiments of some who wish it to carry on that the conscious decision of the governing body has been one of suspension and not closure till the aim is finally achieved.
The critique from some quarters on this action as also of any action with relation to deliberations at Jantar Mantar by a select number of misinformed, misguided, ignorant individuals who have had noting t contribute has been noted for whatever it is worth. Their views are summarily rejected herein.
The ball now lies squarely with the MOD, we have done our bit towards conflict resolution and it is now for the authorities concerned to walk the talk.
In doing so we are open to any sort of discussion, clarification, or even adjustments should it lead to finality of our aim. This is to inform the environment that a Camp Office in the present location of our agitation will operative hereafter. Any veteran or their NOK is most welcome to visit this office and consult the officials present for any form of guidance, help, assistance or resolution of their individual matters. Suitable contact numbers of this office will be intimated later.
Regular information bulletins will follow periodically as opposed to the daily Press Release being issued so far. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have volunteered, personally indulged in RHS or have contributed in even the smallest measure towards the successful conduct of this agitation. A communication from Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh is attached as given below.
Col. Anil Kaul, VrC
UNITED FRONT OF EX-SERVICEMEN
HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE 29 APR, 2016
1. Dear Countrymen today we take the privilege of sharing our journey from 1982, when the torch was lit for the first time by Col Inderjit Singh to raise our voice for the rights of ESM which were very unfairly snatched away from us in 1973. The crowning glory was the start of movement on 14 June, 2015 at Jantar Mantar where Gen Satbir, Gen Balbir and Col Inderjit emerged as the new stars on the horizon of UFESM as galvanizing force to spread the movement to every corner of the world. The entire nation stood behind us in our fair and just demands and we are grateful to the present Govt which has implemented OROP though in a diluted form after 42 years of struggle.
2. We have already sent our representation to address the anomalies arising in the implementation of OROP to Justice Reddy Committee on 25 Mar 2016 through the Hon’ble RM. This is in response to the discussion held by RM with the ESM representatives on 14 Mar 2016. Justice Reddy Committee is scheduled to submit its recommendations by 15 June 2016. As already informed to you all, we have brought out the following anomalies in the Implementation of OROP:-
· Equalization of Pensions as per the original approved definition be carried out every year instead of 5 years as per the Govt Notification dated 07 Nov 2015.
· Pensions are to be fixed at maximum of the Rank and year of service in the year instead of Average of Max and Min.
· Since the OROP is being implemented with effect from 01 Jul 2014, the base year should be 2014-2015 instead of Average of 2013.
· OROP should be implemented with effect from 01 Apr 2014 as mentioned in the Executive Order of the Govt dated 26 Feb 2014 instead of 01 Jul 2014.
· There are serious inaccuracies in the construction of Tables issued on 03.02.2016 for the fixation of pensioners. The details of inaccuracies have been brought to the Notice of Service HQs with request to forward the same to Justice Reddy Committee. We understand from the Service HQs that these inaccuracies have been brought to the notice of MoD.
· Approved definition of OROP has been given out in the Govt. Executive Order dated 26 Feb 2014. But it has been changed while transmitting to Reddy Committee, which totally destroys the soul of the OROP. This approved definition has been confirmed by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh in the Parliament on 02 Dec 2014 and is in line which the Recommendations of Koshyari Committee. The salient point of the Govt Executive Orders and the approved definition of OROP vide Govt of India In of Def Letter No. 12 (01)/2014/D(Pen/Pol) dated 26 Feb 2014 are as under :-
(i) Finance Minister in his Interim Budget Speech on 17th February 2014 announced that the Government has accepted the principle of One Rank One Pension for the defence forces. In pursuance of this Budget announcement and the decision taken in the meeting chaired by Hon’ble Raksha Mantri on 26.02.2014, It has been decided to implement the principle of One Rank One Pension for all ranks of defence forces prospectively from the financial year 2014-15.
(ii) It was noted that “One Rank One Pension (OROP) implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement and any future enhancement in the rates of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of the current pensioners and the past pensioners and also future enhancements in the rate of pension to be automatically passed on to the past pensioners”
3. However, the Govt through its Notification dated 07 Nov 2015, has changed the above approved definition which totally destroys the soul of the OROP. We have already written to RM for the restoration of original definition Justice Reddy has been requested to recommend the restoration of the original approved definition. The amended definition in fact kills the very concept of OROP which is to be applicable in perpetuity.
4. We will shortly be impleading in the ongoing OROP case of Maj Gen SPS Vains Vs others and Union of India in the SC for all ranks. Senior Advocate Shri Ram Jeth Malani has very kindly consented to fight our case of implementation of Actual OROP for all ranks pro-bono.
5. We are also filing the following cases in AFT RK Puram New Delhi:-
(a) Grant of pension equal to regular ranks for Hony ranks awarded to ESM on retirement or after retirement.
(b) Broad banding of disability pension.
(c) Arrears upto 2006 for all JCOs/OR.
(d) Reservist Pension should be increased.
6. The Print and Electronic Media has blacked out any new about our ongoing OROP Agitation. We have already brought to the Notice of Information Minister Mr. Jaitley and requested him to issue suitable directions to ensure free and fair media coverage of our Activities of our Movement.
7. There are serious and large numbers of Anomalies in the recommendations of 7the CPC. If the recommendations are approved in the present form, it will furthers degrade and downgrade the profession of Defence Forces. The Review Committee constituted by the Govt does not have any member from the Defence Forces. Even the BSF has got their member included. The three chiefs have jointly represented to the Govt and brought out 36 Anomalies in the Recommendations of 7th CPC. We the Ex-Servicemen fully support the views of our three Services Chiefs and would struggle to get our due Justice. The degradation, down gradation, ill-treatment and mistreatment of Military in status, pay pension and allowances have to stop and the status of Defence Forces in all respects as it existed on 26 Jan 1950 needs to be restored at the earliest. We will jointly and unitedly struggle to get Izzat and Insaf for the solders.
8. We would request our Hon’ble PM & RM and the six MPs from the Defence Fraternity to assist in Restoring the Izzat of the Soldiers”. “Do we respect our Soldiers”? Discussion needs to be taken to every nook and corner of the country on all forums to grant the due priority to the “Profession of Arms” and the “Security of the Nation.” Our representatives in the Parliament must debate on the issue and restore the status of Armed Forces in all respects to the 26 Jan 1950 level.
9. We strongly feel that the Political Parties and the Govts of the day did not pay any attention to the Defence Forces since they thought that we, both serving and retired are spread across the Country and do not use our Vote Power. This thought had a lot to do with the neglect of defence personnel by the Political Parties.
10. We now, understand power of Vote and have carried out study and research across the country in various states. The study reveals that we have direct influence of over 6 crores Votes and our capability of opinion making is so large in villages and Tehsils that we could influence another 4 crores indirectly. This large no of voting strength can affect the election outcome of at-least 150 Parliamentary Constituencies and over 450 State Assembly Constituencies across the country.
11. We have decided to use this “Power of Votes” in all Election in the States and Centre. We request all members of the Sainik Samaj to understand and use this “Power of Votes”for the interest and benefit of Sainik Samaj in the coming State elections.
12. We will soon be focusing on this important factor to restore our status in all respects. ESM in various states who have the interest should come forward and fight elections from Panchyat to Parliament.
13. As a goodwill gesture, we are removing the wrongly perceived “Gun on the Head” of the decision makers in the Govt and unilaterally, suspending the activity of Relay Hunger Strike temporarily at Jantar Mantar and at other locations in the Country with immediate effect. We request our Hon’ble PM and RM to kindly consider and resolve the anomalies in the implementation of OROP at the earliest please.
Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd)
Advisor United Front of Ex Servicemen & Chairman IESM
Mobile: 9312404269, 01244110570