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One Rank, One Pension

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One Rank, One Pension

One Rank One Pension (OROP)
Indian ex-servicemen(veterans) on Protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi for Equalization of Pension of all veterans retired in same rank with same years of service.
GIVE US RIGHT NOW WHAT IS LAWFULLY OURS!
Women support to OROP. Nafisa Ali (actress & wife of veteran) in middle expressing solidarity with OROP along with Richa and Janhvi-OROP social media team & OROP activists
Two former Chiefs of Navy and Air Force supporting OROP Protest
Two former Chiefs: Air Chief Marshal Suri and Admiral Ramdas expressing their strong support to OROP Protest.

One Rank One Pension (OROP), or "same pension, for same rank, for same length of service, irrespective of the date of retirement"[1]:p 1 was the basis for determining the pension and benefits of Indian Armed Forces till 1973, when it was terminated by the Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD), in an "ex-parte" decision, during the tenure of the Indian National Congress (INC) led by Indira Gandhi.[2] :paras 10.4 and 11.2

The termination of OROP, and drastic decrease in Armed Forces soldiers' pension from 70 percent to 37 percent of last pay drawn,[3] two years after 1971 Bangladesh war, caused disquiet in the Indian Armed Forces and, since 2008, has been cause of public appeals and protests,[2]:para 2,10.2,10.4 and 11.2 and hunger strikes by armed forces veterans,[4][5] the overwhelming majority of whom retire before they are forty years old.[6]

Against the background of four decades of unsuccessful attempts by Armed Forces veterans for implementation of OROP, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government, in 2008, during the tenure of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister, while disregarding OROP for the Armed Forces, granted OROP to present, and future civil Servants, in perpetuity, at the apex pay grade (Rs 80,000), the highest pay grade in the government, and a pay grade at which majority of the officials of India's Central Civil Services, including police officers, retire.[7][8][9]:para 1.2.8–9

In contrast to near hundred percent Apex-OROP coverage to past and future retiree from the civil services, including majority of civilian officers in Ministry of Defence responsible for providing secretarial, logistic, and rear area services to the Armed Forces, only a fraction of one percent of the armed forces officers, as hedge against their opposition to the scheme were provided coverage under the 'Apex-OROP-2008'.[8]

'Apex OROP' was accompanied by two other radical decisions in 2008: grant of 'non-functional financial up-gradation' [9]:para 11.20 to all civil services including the Indian Police Service,[10]:p 156 note 3, and Annexure -I, p 319 and creation of several hundred new posts of secretaries and Special Secretaries, at the apex grade pay level, so as to make almost all civilian and police officers eligible for apex scale OROP pensions. In the Police alone over three dozen new apex grade pay level post were created.[9]:page 645–46; para 3.2.12 'Non-functional financial up-gradation'(NFU) was not extended to Armed Forces.[11]

These decisions, which increased the pay-pension gap between defence and civilian officials, and sharply downgraded highly selective Armed Forces pay grades and ranks across the board, most significantly, at the senior ranks of Colonel to Major General, and their equivalents in the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF), were widely resented by the armed forces.[11][12] :para 10.4 and 11.2 [13]

Growing unease in the Armed Forces, and escalating protest by veterans, with implementation of OROP as focus, led to setting up of a ten-member all-party Parliamentary Panel, known as the Koshyari Committee after its chairman, to examine the OROP issue.[2] The Koshyari Committee after considering the evidence, and hearing oral depositions for eight months, in December 2011, unanimously found merit in OROP and strongly recommended that, "Government should implement OROP in the defence forces across the board at the earliest and further that for future, the pay, allowances, pension, family pension, etc., in respect of the defence personnel should be determined by a separate commission"[2]:p 1 Despite the Koshyari Committee report, public commitments, including in the parliament, and visible disaffection amongst the armed force veterans, the UPA Government was slow to reach out to the veterans and implement OROP.[14]

In May 2014, the UPA Government having lost the election was replaced by replaced by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which like the Congress Party, had on several occasions committed to implement OROP: it was an integral part of the election manifesto of the INC and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).[15] Sonia Gandhi of INC, and Narendra Modi of BJP, at political rallies made repeated commitments to implement OROP, if elected.[14] Narendra Modi, the BJP prime Ministerial candidate, in order to win armed forces and veteran support, had made Armed Forces issues, including implementation of OROP, election rallying call.[16]

The BJP leadership after it assumed office continued to make pledges, and promises, but was slow to implement OROP, raising doubts about its commitment to implement OROP according to the accepted definition.[17][18][19] The BJP ambivalence provoked nation wide protests by the veterans, starting 15 June 2015.[4][20][21] On 14 August 2015, Delhi police and Central Military

On 5 September 2015, the NDA Government following 83 days of public protest, including hunger strike, and assault by Delhi Police on the protesting veterans[22][23][24] announced, unilaterally, the implementation the 'OROP Scheme' for the Armed Forces.[25][26][27] The Government announcement was greeted with dismay, and appointment.[20] The veteran organization denounced 'OROP-2015' saying it was not OROP. It did not conform with the 'accepted' definition of OROP, and decided to continue with their protest.[20][28]

OROP definition

Koshyari Committee definition

In 2011, the Petitions Committee of the Rajya Sabha or the Koshyari Committee, after examining the evidence, and taking into account the written and oral submissions by top officials from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Finance, veterans, and senior serving armed forces officers, over a six-month period (May–December 2011), defined the concept of OROP as follows:[29]
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."[29] :para 3 and 6 The concept includes "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. In armed forces, equality in service has two components, namely, rank and length of service. The importance of rank is inherent in armed forces as it has been granted by the President of India and signifies command, control and responsibility in consonance with ethos of service. These ranks are even allowed to be retained by the individual concerned after his/her retirement. Hence, two armed personnel in the same rank and equal length of service should get same pension irrespective of date of retirement and any future enhancement in rates of pension be automatically passed on to the past pensioners."[29] :para3

Accepted definition

The Koshyari Committee definition of OROP was accepted by the Government,[14] endorsed by Parliament, and by ex-servicemen and ex-servicemen organizations. It has since become the accepted definition and basis for the ex-servicemen's demand for implementation of OROP. It is in sync with the ex-servicemen definition of OROP, according to which OROP "implies the grant of equal pension to soldiers of a particular rank, who have rendered the same length of service, irrespective of the date of their retirement."[1]:p 1

On 27 February 2014, the MOD, in a meeting to discuss implementation of OROP attended by Antony, Defence Minister, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, RK Mathur, Defence Secretary, Sangita Gairola, Secretary Department of Ex-Servicemen's Welfare, Arunava Dutt, Secretary Defence Finance, the Adjutant General of the Army, and the Vice Chiefs of the three Service, endorsed the OROP definition, affirming that 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," and that it also 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".[14]

BJP Government: search for new definition

The 'accepted definition' of OROP, did not find favor with the BJP Government. On 30 May 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after more than a year of pledges and promises to implement OROP, controversially declared that there are "too many definitions [of OROP] going around", and that his Government is "looking for one on which all stakeholders agree".[30] Modi's musings on the need for a new more acceptable OROP definition prompted widespread dismay, disappointment, and outrage amongst Armed Forces pensioners.[31] Modi's statement was perceived by veterans as disingenuous: intended to to delay, dilute, and deny OROP. Lt General Vijay Oberoi, former Vice Chief of Army Staff, in a caustic commentary on the PM declaration, wrote that BJP Government was "expected to have a mind of its own and not be overly influenced by highly biased civil officials, who never lose a chance to put down the military. It is sad that the political-bureaucratic nexus is back in power, much to the detriment of the nation." He noted that the "conviction among military personnel now is that the touted ‘change’ that was the slogan that brought this government to power was only an election ploy and there is no difference between this and the previous governments."[32] The implications of PM 's statement was that the definition of OROP is not settled; that there are multiple definitions; that BJP does not subscribe to the Koshyari Committee definition; that Koshyari Committee definition is open for revision; and that there is a need for a 'new definition of OROP', a definition that is acceptable to 'all stake holders'. The other stake holder were neither defined nor identified by the government.

Arun Jaitley, the current Finance Minister and former Defence Minister, has opposed Koshyari Committee definition of OROP. On 14 August 2015, the day the police roughed up veteran at Jantar Mantar, said, "the arithmetical translation" of OROP was posing a problem because of " several interpretations (of the definition of OROP)".[33] On 31 August 2015 Arun Jaitley, without defining OROP, says, "I have my own formula on what OROP means. Somebody else may have their own formula on OROP but it has to be within reasonable and rational criteria. You can't have an OROP where pensions are revised every month or every year".[34] Responding to Jaitley, the UPSEM alleges that Arun Jaitley, is manipulating the media, specifically, the Times of India, and India TV channel, to misinform the public, and exacerbate difference between the Officers and soldiers, on the OROP issue.[34]

Apex OROP for civil services

The UPA Government sanctioned One Rank, One Pension (OROP) for all civil servants who retire at the apex pay scale, the current pay of secretaries, and special secretaries to the Government of India,[7][35] and the highest scale of pay in the Government of India, which is currently Rs. 80000(fixed).[36]:p 1–2

'Apex OROP' decision was processed in the Department of Pensions and Pensioners' Welfare (DOP&PW), a department directly under the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister's Office, by Indian Administrative service (IAS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officers, who, not surprisingly, favored themselves with 100 percent OROP coverage at apex scales. The decision was implemented not by a public notification, but a slyly worded internal memo, issued by Department of Pensions and Pensioners' Welfare.[37] Avay Shukla, a former officer of the Indian Administrative Service, ( 1975 batch, Himachal Pradesh cadre), who retired at the apex grade, and is recipient of Apex Grade OROP linked pension, wrote that apex OROP for the civil services was done slyly, by "a slight of hand", by a decree, "that all who retire in this scale (known loftily as the Apex Scale) would get OROP – that is, their pensions would always be linked to whatever revised Apex Scale the subsequent Pay Commissions decided. Since every single IAS and IFS officer retires in the Apex Scale this forever ensured OROP for themselves. To reduce any opposition to the stratagem, some Apex Scale posts were also made available to other All India services." [7] As 'Apex-OROP' was done secretly it has neither been discussed or scrutinized by the media, or the Ministry of Finance, and for this reason remained little known.[8][37]

Beneficiaries of OROP-2008

Civil services

'Apex-OROP' while appearing to be selective, provides apex grade pay pension coverage to thousands of retired , serving, and future Civil Service officers, including 4802 Indian Foreign Service[38] 600 Indian Foreign Service officers,[39] and majority of the 4720 the IPS serving officers not with standing what their responsibilities or duties entail.[8][40]

Ajay Prasad, IAS, former defence secretary, who retired on 30 June 2004, on 22 August 2015, in a debate on national TV denied that he was getting Apex-OROP .[41] J.K. Khanna, a IPS officer, who retired as DGP, in 2011, and Avay Shukla, IAS, who retired in 2010, have confirmed that they like other IAS and IPS officers are getting Apex OROP.[8][37]

Armed Forces

In comparison with near 100 percent coverage to all present and future members of the direct recruits to All India Civil Services, a mere .13 percent of the Armed Forces Officer corps[13] are covered by the special OROP scheme. Those covered include the three heads of the Defence Forces, Army Commanders, and few other Lt Generals, and their equivalents in the Navy, and Air Force. This minuscule upper crust of the armed Forces officers corps was covered by the apex scale as a hedge against them raising their voices on the 'stratagem'.[8] Contentiously, apex-OROP while covering all civil officers in the MOD, including those responsible for providing various support services to the defence forces, like accounts and audit, land, excluded the senior most ranks of the Armed Forces, including Lt Generals, Major Generals, Vice Admirals, and Rear Admirals, and Air Marshals, the commanders of the Armed Forces largest formations: its Corps, Divisions, air commands, bases, fleets and training establishments.[13]

Sanction of Apex-OROP to thousands of officials, amongst other factors, is perceived as the "causus belli" for the protest by Armed Forces veterans over OROP.[4][5][7] It is also the probable cause for the unprecedented letter by former Chiefs of Defence Forces of India to the Government declaring their support for OROP for the Armed Forces.[42]

Ministry of Defence and OROP

The higher bureaucracy in Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD), unlike defence ministries in other countries, is staffed entirely by civil service officers on deputation, who have never served in the armed forces or are be familiar with its working or ethos. The bureaucracy in the MOD, is drawn from the IAS and from other civil services, including from civilian services responsible for providing support services to the Armed Forces such as the from Indian Defence Estates Service, the Indian Defence Accounts Service (IDAS), and Indian Ordnance Factories Service. The entire MOD bureaucracy is covered by Apex OROP.[7][43] MOD higher bureaucracy, despite being assured full apex-OROP coverage has, since the issue was raised, been opposed to OROP for the Armed Forces.[44] The MOD is considered by most ex-servicemen, including former head of the Armed Forces, as permanent impediment to OROP, and welfare of ESM. Four former heads of the Armed Forces in August 2015, in a open letter addressed to the President of India flagged "The hostile approach of MoD bureaucracy" and its "antagonistic handling of problems related to pensions and allowances of aging veterans, war widows and battle-casualties'.[45]

In 2011, during the tenure AK Antony, as Defence Minister, Neelam Nath, Secretary of Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare (Poorva Senani Kalyan Vibhag) from 1 June 2009 to 30 September 2011, on instructions of Shashi Kant Sharma, Defence Secretary, opposed OROP for the Armed Force, in her deposition to the Parliamentary Panel.[29]:para 4, and 4.1 The Koshyari Committee however, disagreed with submissions by the Ministry of Defence and found "merit in the demand for One Rank One Pension by Armed Forces Personnel", and urged the Government to implement OROP at the earliest.[29][46]

OROP and UPA government

During the tenure of the UPA Government, OROP issue gained salience. This was mainly because Manmohan Singh, UPA Government’s Prime Minister, in the wake of Sixth Central Pay Commission (6 CPC), in 2008, decided to [a] disregard OROP;[9]:para 5.1.58 [b] grant time bound higher pay grades and ranks to civilian and Police officers, who wears army badges of rank, at fixed intervals, independent of the job requirement, or span of responsibilities; [c] sanction assured automatic pay promotions, to all officers of All India Services, and the police, under what has been called the "Non-Functional Up-gradation" (NFU), and [d] terminate "traditional pay parity between the commissioned officers and the AIS", by denying similar pay promotions to armed forces.[9]:para 1.2.8–9[47]

These decisions had the effect of sharply down grading Armed Forces pay grades and ranks across the board, and were widely perceived as attempts by the civil and police bureaucracy to undermine Armed Forces honour, esteem and Izzat,[12] The perceived sense of injustice exacerbated resentment and made OROP an emotional issue.[13] [29] :para 10.4 and 11.2

Ex-servicemen's organisations and Armed Forces veterans frustrated with UPA Government, in despair, took to the streets. Ex-servicemen protest which began tentatively slowly escalated from meek submission of petitions, to return of service and war medals, dharnas, and hunger strikes.[29] :paras 10.4 and 11.2

On 27 February 2014, Defence Minister A K Antony announced that UPA will implement OROP by 1 April 2014.[14]

OROP and the BJP

Narendra Modi, the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, at a large election rally, in Rewari, Haryana, with former General VK Singh and Chief of Army Staff standing by his side, in the presence of tens of thousands Ex-Servicemen, declared that he will implement OROP, if elected.[16] After N Modi’s election there were more promises, and public affirmations, by Manohar Parrikar, the Defence Minister, including the Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, on the merits of OROP, and their intent to implement OROP. most memorably on Diwali 2014, at Siachen Glacier, in 2014, where he told soldiers "It was in my destiny that One rank One pension has been fulfilled".[17] Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister and Defence Minister, in the Budget Speech on 10 July 2014, said, "We reaffirm our commitment to our brave soldiers. A policy of 'One Rank One Pension' has been adopted by the Government to address the pension disparities. We propose to set aside a further sum of 1,000 crore to meet this year’s requirement"[48]:page 25,para 140

Modi's "Mann Ki Batt", radio address on 31 May 2015, in which he asked Ex-Servicemen to remain patient, as he gets rid of the bureaucratic hassles.[49]

Potential beneficiaries of OROP

Potential beneficiaries of OROP is about 2.6 million ex-servicemen, and 60,000 widows, including war widows, i.e., a combined total of 3.2 million, of whom about 86 percent are widows, JCOs, NCOs, and other ranks, about 14 percent are officers.[34] Out of the estimated outlay on OROP of Rs 8400 crores about Rs 6200 Crores will be on account of Widows, JCOs, NCOs, and other ranks, and about 2200 for Officers.[34]

Protest by armed forces veterans

On 15 June, ex-servicemen despairing of BJP promises, commenced nationwide protests, and hunger strikes.[4][5][21]

Four former chiefs of the Armed Forces of India, namely General S F Rodrigues, former COAS, and Admirals L Ramdas, Arun Prakash and Sureesh Mehta, former Chiefs of Naval Staff, in an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, on 13 August 2015, warned that the denigration and humiliation of veterans, and the Government handling of veterans and armed Forces issues, pose grave "implication for national security" [45]

OROP decision

Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, on 5 September 2015, the 83rd day of the nationwide protest by ex-servicemen on OROP, in the presence of the three Chiefs of the Armed Forces, announced that "despite the huge fiscal burden", Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, "has fulfilled his commitment and approved OROP for Armed Forces personnel." [25][26] The "estimated cost to the exchequer" to implementing OROP, the Defence Minister said, "would be 8,000 to 10,000 crore at present".[25][26]

Definition

The definition of OROP, for the approved OROP scheme, Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, said "implies that uniform pension be paid to the Armed Forces personnel retiring in the same rank with the same length of service, regardless of their date of retirement. Future enhancements in the rates of pension would be automatically passed on to the past pensioners. This implies bridging the gap between the rate of pension of current and past pensioners at periodic intervals". "Under this definition, it has been decided that the gap between rate of pension of current pensioners and past pensioners will be bridged every 5 years".[25]

OROP Scheme

"OROP Scheme" as announced includes the following:

"[a] The benefit will be given with effect from 1st July, 2014. The present government assumed office on 26th May, 2014 and therefore, it has been decided to make the scheme effective from a date immediately after.[b] Arrears will be paid in four half-yearly instalments. [c] All widows, including war widows, will be paid arrears in one instalment(sic). [d] To begin with, OROP would be fixed on the basis of calendar year 2013. Pension will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and with the same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013. Those drawing pensions above the average will be protected. [e] Personnel who voluntarily retire will not be covered(emphasis added) under the OROP scheme. [f] In future, the pension would be re-fixed every 5 years." [25]

OROP and premature retirement

Defence Minister's decision to include the clause "Personnel who voluntarily retire will not be covered under the OROP scheme" in the OROP scheme announcement, on 5 September 2015, without warning the ex-servicemen, caused immediate outrage, and doubts about government intent amongst ex-servicemen.[50][51] Arguing against the exclusion clause the ex-servicemen have said that it was not a part of the discourse, and discussion between the ex-servicemen and the government; it was not an items on the discussion agenda on 5 September morning meeting between minister and ex-servicemen; voluntary retirement scheme(VRS) is a term used by Public Sector Units, and corporate sector, to retire their staff on mutually agreed package, which usually does not have a pension component; and that VRS is not applicable to the Armed Forces, as the Armed Forces does not have VRS. Ex-servicemen have explained that the armed forces has premature retirement (PMR), which is different on many counts from VRS: to avail pension, and PMR, Armed Forces officers must have completed 20 years of service, and soldiers 15 years service; and unlike VRS, PMR invariably has a reserve liability, ie, they can be ordered back into service by the government if the national situation so demands. Ex-servicemen were surprised and disappointed that MOD, which oversees PMR, included, at the last minute, and without warning, the exclusion clause.[51] They were also disappointed that the MOD, which should have known better, conflated VRS and PMR in its announcement. Who was behind the confusion is unclear. The ex-servicemen have demanded an inquiry on how the offending caveat was slipped into the Ministers statement, and MOD press release. Colonel Anil Kaul, spokesperson of the United Front of Ex-Servicemen said, "When we met the Defence Minister on Saturday, there were only three points on the table and that did not include the question about the PMRs. But then, the Defence Minister surprisingly made an announcement at 3 pm that personnel who retire voluntarily will not be covered under OROP. Upset, when we met him again between 6.30 and 7 pm, he too was surprised about the inclusion of the clause." [50] To defuse the ex-servicemen suspicion, distrust, and prevent further escalation, the Prime Minister, on 6 September, announced in Faridabad that all pensioners including those who took premature retirement will be covered by the OROP scheme.[52][53] It is estimated that 46 per cent of all ex-servicemen are PMRs.[50]

Judicial committee

OROP is not a settled issue. It is,as MOD statement notes, 'a complex issue' and 'not an administrative matter alone', and therefore the MOD has decided to constitute "a One Member Judicial Committee", which will do a "thorough examination of interests of retirees of different periods and different ranks" and consider "inter-service issues of the three Forces".[25] The "One Member Judicial Committee" the statement says "will give its report in six months". Ex-servicemen rejected MOD decision to constitute a one-man committee headed by a retired Supreme Court justice. Instead they urged the Government to constitute a committee of three military veterans, recommended by ex servicemen and an official, appointed by MOD, and that the committee be called upon to submit its report not in six but one month.[28]

Explanation for delay

The Defence Minister in explanation and as alibi for the delay in implementing OROP, which has been under consideration of the BJP Government for the last 16 months, and pending for four decades, cited the following: [a] The previous governments of Man Mohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance "remained ambivalent on the issue of OROP"; its Minister of State for Defence, in 2009, "in reply to a question, informed Parliament that there are administrative, technical and financial difficulties in implementing OROP". [b] In February 2014, United Progressive Alliance Government while stating that " OROP would be implemented in 2014-15", made a "a budget provision of a mere Rs. 500 crore", which was "not based on any thorough analysis", and that it failed to "specify what OROP would be, how it would be implemented or how much it would cost". These explanations for delay in the implementation of OROP by the present Government find echo in Narendra Modi, PM speech, at a large rally, in Faridabad, Haryana, on 6 September 2015.[52] The Congress Party, not unsurprisingly, disagrees with these explanations.[54]

Ex-servicemen response

Following the Manohar Parrikar statement on the decision to implement OROP, Major General ( Retd) Satbir Singh said, "Out of the six demands that we made, the government has only agreed with one. We want clarification on the premature retirement point in the OROP. "On Government decision to revise pension every five years rather than every year he said, that this was not "in the spirit of One Rank, One Pension, it will be One Rank, Five Pensions," and therefor "urge the government to rethink it"."[20][28]

The ex servicemen dissatisfied with the OROP scheme announced by MOD, decided to call off the hunger strike, but continue with the protest till "all major demands are met". A maha-rally is planned for 12 September 2015[20][28]

Former Defence Minister's response to OROP Scheme

A.K. Antony, former defence minister in UPA Government, on 5 September 2015, calling the BJP government OROP scheme "totally disappointing", said it "substantially diluted the provisions of the OROP announced by the UPA". He said, it "ridiculed the ex-servicemen as well as the whole country." Refuting Manohar Parrikar's allegation that Congress Government was ambivalent on OROP, he said, "We had already accepted in toto the demand for OROP and were in the process of implementing it." [54]

Financial implications

Estimated expenditure

The estimates of expenditure on account of OROP has undergone many revisions: according to early MOD estimates OROP was expected to cost 3000 crores;[29]:para 6, 6.11 this figure has since been questioned and revised. The current estimates vary between 8,000-9,000 crores.[29] :para 7[46] Finance Ministry estimates for implementation of OROP in accordance with the accepted Koshyari definition, according to media reports in August 2015, were about 12000 crores , ie, about 4000 crores more than estimated earlier.[33]

Affordability

Some defence analyst who have examined the financial implications of OROP have contended that OROP is affordable, and that opposition to it is based on 'specious' grounds.[46] Former heads of Armed Forces including Admiral Arun Prakash have also contended that OROP is affordable as it is small fraction of the defence budget.[20]

Defence pensions

Defence pension for 2015–16 is 54,500 crores, includes about 500,000 defence civilians.[46] Defence civilians officers from the IAS and other AIS , since 2008, are covered by OROP.
No Year Defence Pensions in Crores Remarks
1 1981–82 1,670
2 2013–14 53,582.15 Defence allocation 2,24,000 crore (US$37.15 billion prevailing average exchange rate). 2013-14 defence budget is exclusive of Rs 53,582.15 crore for defence pension, including for defence civilians. It also includes Rs 500 crore on account of the government’s One Rank One Pension (OROP).[55]
3 2015–16 54,500 includes Rs22,500 crore (45%) for civilian pensions Defence allocation Rs. 2,46,727 crore (US$40.4 billion). The pension allocation includes Rs. 62,852.6 crore provided to MoD under the heads of Defence Pensions (Rs. 54,500 crore) and Civil Expenditure of MoD (Rs. 8,852.6 crore), both of which do not form part of India’s official defence budget.[56] Total Pensioners 24.62 lakh , including 5.62 lakh (22.83%) defence civilian pensioners.

Measures to reduce Armed Forces pension bill

Reducing the ratio of military pensioners to serving military personnel

The current ratio of military pensioners to serving military personnel is 1.7 to 1.[46] In comparison the ratio of civil pensioners to civil work force is 0.56 to 1.[46] Reducing the ratio of pensioner to serving in the military will, it is argued, will greatly reduce the defence pension bill.[46] To reduce the military pension bill, the 6 CPC and Koshyari Committee, had urged the Government to absorb Armed Forces personnel after their military engagement in Civil Government organization including Police Organization as is the custom in many countries, including in China, and in advanced economies like S Korea, Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, and the United States.[29]

The transfer and absorption of Armed Forces personnel after the end of their military service into government organizations and departments where their unique skills, training, discipline and strengths can be optimally used, despite recommendations of the Parliament and Pay Commission, has been mostly ignored by successive Governments.[29]:para 5[46] This is mainly on account of want of energy and commitment by the MOD, and obstruction by MHA[29]

Fifth Central Pay Commission (5 CPC)

The 5 CPC, in its report submitted in January 1997, recommended increase in posts for pensioned off Armed Forces personnel in Group C and D in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) from 10% to 25%. For Short Service Commissioned Officers, on completion of their military service, 5 CPC recommended earmarking 25% officer's post in the CAPFs. These recommendations, the pay Commission thought, would reduce the defence pension bill, save on training and recruitment costs, provide trained manpower to government departments, and provide soldiers a second career after their term of military engagement.[9]:p 139, para 2.4.4

The Pay Commission recommendations were, however, mostly ignored by the Janata Dal (United Front), and BJP Government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that followed. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Defence Minister (1 June 1996 – 19 March 1998), Indrajit Gupta (Communist Party of India-United Front), Home Minister (29 June 1996 – 19 March 1998), and L K Advani (BJP), Home Minister (19 March 1998 – 22 May 2004) did little to implement these recommendations. The problem festered, and the pension bill ballooned.[9]:p 139, para 2.4.4

Sixth Central Pay Commission (6 CPC)

The 6 CPC found that Indian Para Military Forces, called Central Armed Police Forces—CAPFs, which has a total strength of about 7,00,000 (in 1996), and defence civilians in Ministry of Defence, which had a strength of 4,00,000, have a combined annual intake of around 35,000 personnel; in comparison Armed Forces personnel (Army, Air Force, and Navy) pensioned off every year (in 1996) was approximately 40,000.[9]:para 2.4.5, p 139 The 6 CPC on the basis of its analysis concluded that "potential to allow lateral shift of nearly all Defence Forces personnel to CPOs and various cadres of defence civilians exists".[9]:para 2.4.6

The 6 CPC recommended that in future posts in the "CPOs/defence civilian organisations" should be filled by lateral transfer of Armed Forces personnel, including Short Service Commissioned Officers, after they complete their term of military service.[9]:para 2.4.6p 140 Improving the post military service prospects of Short Service Commissioned Officers finds a prominent place in the BJP manifesto 2014, a pledge on which the BJP has till to act.[15]

Response of the NDA Government

The recommendation of 6 CPC on lateral movement, however, were mostly ignored by the Indian National Congress-(UPA) Government. A K Antony, the Defence Minister (24 October 2006 – 26 May 2014), at the time did little to follow up on these recommendations. P Chidambaram, Home Minister (30 November 2008 – 31 July 2012), the minister responsible for implementing the recommendations on lateral movement, according to the 6 CPC, resisted implementing these reforms which would result in savings of tens of thousands of crores.[9]:p 141, para 2.4.8 In the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) the resistance to these imminently sensible measures was from the civil and police bureaucracy, especially from the heads of Indian Para Military Forces, also called Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs).[9]:p 141, para 2.4.8 The seven CAPFs are headed by officers from Indian Police Service. They have direct access to the Minister of Home Affairs, and were elevated by the UPA Government to apex pay grades, a grade higher than that of most Lt Generals, including those in command of Corps of the Indian Army.[9]:page 645–46, para 11.18[10]

Savings from lateral movement of Armed Forces personnel

The 6 CPC estimated that the "at the end of 13 years the annual savings" from transfer- absorption of Armed Forces personnel to civil departments, including police, "will be to the tune of 7,800 crore at constant price index". Lateral transfer- absorption, in the longer term result in savings in the overall pension bill, and would more than off set projected expenditure on OROP.[9]:p 141, para 2.4.7 [57]

Chronology

1973-2009

1973

Two years after the 1971 war, in 1973, following the third pay commission, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), terminates ‘One Rank One Pension’ the basis for deciding pension of Indian Armed Forces Personnel ‘which had been in vogue for 26 years since independence’ through an ex parte administrative order.[29] :para 10.1–2, and 6.2 Armed Forces pensions before 1973 because of early retirement, conditions of military service, were about 70 percent of the pay of rank at which they retired. In 1973, the pension of civilian government servant was increased from 33 percent to 50 percent, and that of armed forces who have far shorter careers, and more challenging service conditions, was decreased: officers’ pension from 70 percent to 50 percent and soldiers from 70 to 37 percent of last pay drawn.[3]

1980-81

The Estimates Committee 1980-81 (Seventh Lok Sabha, Fifteenth Report on Resettlement of Ex-servicemen) found that "that disparity in pensions" is " 'Thorn’ (which) freshens and deepens the wound almost every month when an ex-serviceman who had senior appointment in the Armed Forces is chagrined to find that his pension packet is woefully lower than that of an ex-serviceman who was many grades junior to him". The Committee found that "disparity in pension is inequitable and unfair and there is no justification to perpetuate it particularly among ex-servicemen where rank structure have always been the principle determinant of emoluments, perks and privileges. The Committee recommended that this matter should be examined with a fresh approach ... and just solution found to end the disparity in pensions to the satisfaction of large body of ex-servicemen".[58]

1984

Indian National Congress (I) Government led by Rajiv Gandhi, PM, on the prompting of ex servicemen, appoints a High Level Committee headed by K P Singh Deo, Minister of State for Defence. K P Singh Deo Committee found that ‘Ex-servicemen throughout the country... are of the view that a Defence Forces pensioner irrespective of the date of his retirement should get the same pension as another pensioner who retired later for the same rank and the same length of service. Whenever, pensions are revised the same should be applicable automatically and with prospective effect to existing pensioners. Similarly, other kinds of pensions like family pension, special family pension, widows pension and so on, whenever revised should again be automatically applicable to older cases, in the light of principle which has been already established with respect to the pensions of High Court and Supreme Court Judges". This the committee noted "is indeed worth consideration". the then Government, however, ignored the K P Singh Deo Committee findings and recommendations. This provoked the six Members of the All-India Ex-Services Welfare Association to go on indefinite fast in 1987, which resulted in creation of another committee to consider the issues.[58]

1985

By 1985, Armed Forces has fourteen different categories of pensioners.[1]

1986

Rajiv Gandhi led Indian National Congress (I) Government following the 4th CPC decides to implement concept of 'Rank Pay' for armed forces officer ranks ranging from 2/lt to brigadier in the army, and equivalent ranks in the Air Force and the Navy. Depending on the rank, the 'rank pay' varies from 200 to 1200. The 'rank pay', is not an additional pay, but amount deducted from their pay grade. The deduction of 'rank pay' from their grade pay allows the MOD to end old civil-police military equations, and make new equations of equivalence with police, and AIS officers. Selection grade ranks of the armed forces of Lt Colonel, Colonels, and Brigadiers, because of 'rank pay' deductions from their pay, makes these ranks junior to to time scale ranks in the police and AIS. For instance, as general Satbir has pointed out, Second Lieutenant and Lieutenant were equated with Junior Time Scale (JTS) and Captain with Senior Time Scale till 3CPC, were "clubbed with a single civilian rank of JTS".[59] He asks, "How could it be allowed that the first military rank of Second Lieutenant along with two promotional ranks of Lieutenant and Captain were all clubbed with the first civilian rank?". Similarly at the level of major "rank pay' had the effect of promoting civilian pay grades equal to major till the 3 CPC, to that of colonels." Major General Satbir Singh has termed 'rank pay' implementation as “rarest of rare fraud, perjury and Injustice to the defence forces”.[59] Service headquarters for various reasons do not take up the issue. Eventually, Maj AK Dhanapalan, a retired major, litigates 'rank Pay'. After protracted legal struggle high court, despite many appeals,in a land mark decision declares the 'rank pay' concept illegal. In its judgment the SC notes that the 'rank pay' was wrongly deducted from basic pay and ordered re-fixation of pay "with effect from" and not "as on" 1 January 1986.[59][60]

1987 Six members of the All-India Ex-Services Welfare Association go on indefinite fast in 1987, demanding follow up action by the Government on KP Singh Deo Committee findings and recommendations.[58]

1989

In 1989 the VP Singh Government appointed Jafa Committee to implement his promise of OROP for ex-servicemen. This committee, according to ex-servicemen, however, "did every thing to scuttle this concept" An Ad hoc was offered in October 90, which the ESM called "betrayal of their trust" and rejected it.[58] The ESM alleged that " The half truths and lies trotted out by this Committee are being utilized by the Bureaucrats to mislead the leadership in denying the ex-servicemen the grant of this One Rank One Pension".[58]

1991

OROP is considered by Sharad Pawar committee (1990-1991), during the tenure of PM Chandrasekhar (1990-1991).[29] :para 10.1 In 1992, the Government grants a 'one time increase', instead of OROP.[1]

1997

The 5 CPC submits its report in January 1997. The Governmentapproves 5 CPC recommendation of full parity between pensioners before and after 1 January 1986 and a modified parity between pre- and post- 1 January 1996 to all pensioners including Armed Forces pensioners,[9]:para 5.1.58 but ignores OROP. Government decision to accept 5 CPC depress military pensions, including that of General Officers who, in an precedent action, file a lawsuit against the Government. After protracted litigation, strongly contested by the UPA Government, the Supreme Court of India rules in favor of the litigants.[1]

23 November 2002

Sonia Gandhi, Chairman UPA, in run-up to elections, at a public rally, in the Sector 46 sports complex at Chandigarh, declares that she and her party support grant of OROP. OROP is included in the party’s election manifesto.[61]

2006

6th CPC submits report. Its stand on ‘One Rank One Pension' is ambivalent. 6CPC recommends that "extant provisions may continue ".[9]:para 5.1.58 The acceptance of the 6 CPC by the government provokes widespread dismay amongst ex-servicemen. For the first time Ex-servicemen engage in public protest and threaten hunger strikes.[13] Major general Surjit Singh writes that "The Sixth Pay Commission has done inestimable damage to civil-military relations", and giving vent to the general mood says, "The protest rallies are actually a manifestation of the seething anger which many veterans carry as baggage accumulated during service. We all seem to have very bitter memories of the shoddy treatment meted out to us by civil servants. [1]:p 1 [61]

The 6 CPC recommended that in future posts in the "CPOs/defence civilian organisations" should be filled by lateral transfer of Armed Forces personnel, including Short Service Commissioned Officers, after they complete their term of military service.[9]:para 2.4.6p 140

2008

OROP protest gained momentum and support following Government decision to [a] disregard OROP;[9]:para 5.1.58 [b] grant time bound higher pay grades and ranks to civilian and Police officers, who wears army badges of rank, at fixed intervals, independent of the job requirement, or span of responsibilities; [c] sanction assured automatic pay promotions, to all officers of All India Services, and the police, under what has been called the "Non-Functional Up-gradation" (NFU), and [d] terminate "traditional pay parity between the commissioned officers and the AIS".[9]:para 1.2.8–9[13][47]

These decisions were widely perceived by high-ranking Armed Forces veterans as attempts by the civil and police bureaucracy to undermine Armed Forces honour, esteem and Izzat,[12] Public protest by armed Forces veterans escalate.[29] :paras 10.4 and 11.2

16 December 2008 ex-servicemen begin a relay fast at Jantar Mantar. The peaceful protest is largely ignored by the government. Veteran decide to surrender of their war medals, including war and gallantry medals.[61]

8 February 2009

Armed Forces veterans from the three services march to the Rastrapati Bhavan to meet and surrendered their medals to Pratibha Patil, the President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Pratibha Patil refuses to meet with the ex-servicemen (ESM). Instead ESM are met by junior official in the president's secretariat who collects the medals. The presidential slight and "studied disrespect" fuels ESM grievance.[61]

2010-2014

29 October 2010

K. Sanjay Prabhu, a resident of Bengaluru, submits petition to Rajyasabha Committee On Petitions for grant of one rank one pension to the armed forces personnel. The petition is countersigned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, M.P. (Rajya Sabha).[29]

On 15 March 2011

Rajya Sabha, Chairman, admits petition for grant of one rank one pension to the armed forces.[29] On 4 May 2011 ten member Koshiyari Committee commences hearing.[29] :para 5

27 May- 19 December 2011

Neelam Nath (1 June 2009 to 30 September 2011), the Secretary Ministry of Defence (Department Ex-servicemen Welfare), opposes grant of OROP, citing financial, administrative and legal reasons.[29]:para 6, 6.1 Secretary Department of Pensions and Pensioner's Welfare (Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions) in his submission raises alarm that if OROP is accepted for the Armed Forces, then there will be similar demands from the civilian pensioners and others. he says Cabinet Secretary's Committee has assessed financial implication of Rs. 8,000-Rs. 9,000 crores per annum tentatively.[29] :para 8.1 Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Chairman Committee on Petitions, presents the report, to the parliament. The report finds no merit in the Arguments by the UPA Government opposing grant of OROP to Armed Forces pensioners. It finds that “there is merit in the demand for One Rank One Pension by Armed Forces Personnel” and strongly recommended that, “Government should implement OROP"

12 July 2012

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, according to the Ministry of Defence Annual report for 2012-13, "on the persistent demand" of ESW, constitutes a Committee under Ajit Kumar Seth, the Cabinet Secretary " for looking into pay and pension related issue of relevance to defence personnel and ESM" but not specifically OROP.[62]:para 11.41, p171 [63]

Ajit Kumar Seth committee to look into armed Forces pension has no members from the armed forces, but six secretaries from the IAS: [1] PK Nair, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister; [2] Shashi Kant Sharma, Defence Secretary; [3] Secretary, Department of Ex- Servicemen’s Welfare, Ministry of Defence; [4] Secretary, Department of Expenditure; [5] Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training; and [6] Secretary, Department of Revenue.[64] There are no Armed forces personnel on the panel despite separate letters from the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and the AirForce to AK Antony, Defence Minister to include a Armed Forces representative on the panel.[63] The Panel lacks credibility and little is expected from it.[65]

Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma, Chief of Naval Staff & Chairman, Chiefs of the Staff Committee, makes a presentation to the Committee. The committee also meets with Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, Chief of Air Staff and General Bikram Singh, Chief of Army Staff.[65] The Committee submits report on 27 August 2012; its position on the OROP is no different from that of secretaries who deposed in front of Koshiyari Parliamentry Panel. It evades the OROP issue.[62]:para 11.41, p171

24 September 2012

UPA government announces that it has approved OROP. It says it has set aside 2,300 crore has been set aside for the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme. However, there are no plans to implement OROP, and it remains un-implemented.[66]

15 September 2013

Narendra Modi, the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, at a large election rally attended by tens of thousands of Ex-Servicemen, in Rewari, Haryana, with former General VK Singh and Chief of Army Staff standing by his side, declares that he will implement OROP, if elected.[16]

On 27 February 2014

A K Antony, Defence Minister in UPA Government, says that UPA will implement OROP by 1 April 2014.[14]

10 July 2014

Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister and Defence Minister, in his maiden Budget Speech in parliament, says, "We reaffirm our commitment to our brave soldiers. A policy of 'One Rank One Pension' has been adopted by the Government to address the pension disparities. We propose to set aside a further sum of 1,000 crore to meet this year’s requirement"[48]:page 25,para 140

20 August 2014

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Admiral Robin Dhowan and General Dalbir Singh Suhag, briefed A K Mathur, Justice (retd), the chairman 7th Central Pay Commission (CPC), on the pay and pension "anomalies" caused by the 6 CPC.[67]

23 October 2014

Narendra Modi, on Diwali Day, during a well publicised visit to army formation in Siachen Glacier, told soldiers "It was in my destiny that One rank One pension has been fulfilled".[17] Modi's "Mann Ki Batt", radio address on 31 May 2015, in which he asked Ex-Servicemen to remain patient, as he gets rid of the bureaucratic hassles.[49][68]

2015

February–May

17 February 2015

Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, approves proposal for implementation of OROP, estimated to cost 8600 crores. The proposal is forwarded by the MOD, to Ministry of Finance on 17 Mar 2015, where it is still lying.[18]

13 March 2015

General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of Army Staff, while addressing a rally of several thousand ex-servicemen in Jhajjar, Haryana, said that "The OROP will come out in the same principle as desired. It will be effective from 1 April 2014 and may be approved latest by April 30 this year. However, delay does not matter as arrears will be given."[69]

12 May 2015

Indian Ex-Services League (IESL), Odisha unit, blamed the bureaucracy for non-implementation of the grant of One Rank One Pension (OROP). Bidyadhar Nayak, Petty Officer Radio(Special),Indian Navy, general secretary of the Odisha unit, in press release on behalf of IESL said, "The CGDA, PCDA and Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare have now started carrying out their own interpretation of the definition itself of the OROP, which falls far below the intended pension benefits to the defence personnel.” [70]

16 May 2015

Manohar Parrikar, in Goa, said "OROP proposal is in final stage. The defence ministry has approved it and the finance ministry will clear it in a few days, adding, "it is the first time that a clear proposal has been sent to finance ministry on OROP."[19]

28 May 2015

Wing Commander Suresh Damodar Karnik, 80, former flight commander of No 16 Bomber squadron, also called the Black Cobras, Indian Air Force (IAF), a winner of the Vir Chakra for gallantry for combat action in the eastern and western theatre, refused to meet with Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, and Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister, Maharashtra, to protest BJP's failure to honour its commitment to implement OROP. The commander, hero of the air war over Chittagong, in Pune, on 28 May 2015, said that he and his colleagues are unable to 'accept the invite' because the present Government is following a policy of NATO or ‘NO ACTION TALK ONLY’. And that the bureaucracy is "pursuing a policy of inching towards making Defence Forces into a Defiant Force"[71]

29 May 2015

Vijai Singh Mankotia, Former Major in 1 Gorkha Rifles, President of the Himachal Pradesh Ex-Servicemen League and former minister, in Shimla, said, "It barely takes five minutes for Parliament and assemblies to double the salaries of its members but even after 31 years, since this demand of one-rank one pension was made in 1984, the Defence Minister has said it can take a few more months." He added, "The slogan, Jai Jawan-Jai Kisan, will again resonate as we will join hands with the farmers who are the worst suffers in view of the land Acquisition Bill." Himachal has over 1.5 lakh AF pensioners.[4]

30 May 2015

Narendra Modi, PM, to a question, "Will you deliver on the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) promise to the defence personnel?", replied, "We are committed to OROP, but we are in consultation with defence personnel regarding the definition of OROP. Our government is here for five years, and we cannot do anything without consulting the people concerned. The dialogue is being actively pursued. It is just that there are too many definitions going around yet, and we are looking for one on which all stakeholders agree."[30]

June

4 June 2015

Lt General Vijay Oberoi, former Vice Chief of Army Staff, and widely respected war hero of the 1965 war in which he lost his right leg while serving with Maratha Light Infantry,[72] dismissed Narendra Modi's comments on OROP as disingenuous, especially his comment that there were multiple definitions of OROP. He wrote that BJP Government was "expected to have a mind of its own and not be overly influenced by highly biased civil officials, who never lose a chance to put down the military. It is sad that the political-bureaucratic nexus is back in power, much to the detriment of the nation." He noted that the "conviction among military personnel now is that the touted ‘change’ that was the slogan that brought this government to power was only an election ploy and there is no difference between this and the previous governments."[32]

6 June 2015

Ex-Servicemen delegation led by Major General (Retired) Satbir Singh met Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister. The meeting was arranged on the initiative of General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of Army Staff. The meeting was inconclusive, and the two sides agreed to meet again.[73]

11 June 2015

About 5,000 ex-servicemen from Punjab, which has about 6,00,000 Ex-servicemen, according to Brig (Retired) Harwant Singh, state convener of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), are planning to go to Delhi to participate in the protest rally on grant of OROP scheduled to begin 14 June. The participants, which will include around 200 hunger strikers, will be given a "ceremonial farewel" at the war memorial in Jalandhar by war widows. Brig KS Kahlon (retd), President, chapter of the All India Defence Brotherhood, said the protest will also include return by some ex-servicemen of their war medals to the President.[74]

14–15 June 2015

Veteran hold "Maha Sangram Rally" at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, and 50 other locations nationwide. 15 June, commence relay hunger strike.[12][21]

On 15 June, several hundred ex-servicemen, staged a dharna, at Lower PMG Square, Bhubaneshwar, Odisa.[75] Bidyadhar Nayak , general secretary, Indian Ex-Services League(IESL), Odisa unit, referring to the PM's statement that OROP was complex issue said, "Does this imply that OROP has got entangled in bureaucratic malaise for another four years? We have every reason to believe that the Prime Minister is being fed with falsities by sections who are against OROP and lobbies are working hard against the armed forces personnel." IESL officials Group Captain Jagadananda Brahma, President IESL, Arun Mohanty, and Bidyadhar Nayak submitted a memorandum on implementation of OROP to the to Governor SC Jamir [75]

22 June 2015

Ex-servicemen announce intent to boycott golden jubilee events to mark the 1965 war with Pakistan, including "felicitation of 1965 War Veterans" to be hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in September.[76] [77] Ex-Servicemen also announce intent to boycott all government functions including at-home by president on Independence day (August 15), and the Ex-Servicemen contingent at the Republic Day Parade on 26 January 2016. Brigadier Harwant Singh, Regiment of Artillery, veteran of the battle of Chhamb-Akhnoor, 1965 war, says "We don't wish to be treated as showpieces, to be rolled out for ceremonies and discarded thereafter."[76][78]

25 June 2015

Mizoram Ex-Service League, which has membership of 6,200 ex-servicemen [and about 25000 dependents], held protest rally, in Aizawl, demanding demanding implementation of OROP.[79]

27 June 2015

Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd), Chairman IESM, on the 13th Day of the Relay Hunger Strike, issued a circular, claiming that hunger strike protest have spread to 50 locations, all over the country. Urges Retired Generals to "take the lead as they have done while in service", and requests "at-least eleven General Officers" volunteers to join the relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on 1 July 2015.[18]

28 June 2015

500 veterans, demanding implementation of OROP, protest in Chennai, at Kamarajapuram Bus Stop, near Tambaram.[80]

July

1 July 2015

United Front of Ex-servicemen, an ex-service organisation, revealed that ex-service men are reconsidering their protest tactics: new tactics will include continuation of relay hunger strike; protests outside homes of parliamentarians; mobilising electoral support against BJP in state election; and submitting letter and petitions to the President signed by war widows in their blood. In the meanwhile eight farmers organisations have joined the ex-servicemen protest under the banner 'Jai Jawan Jai Kisan'. A 1965 war veteran from Rajasthan, Krishan Kumar, in Delhi said, "We will stop fighting only when implementation of OROP takes place."[81]

2 July 2015

On 19th day of nationwide hunger protest by ex-servicemen on 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP), Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, with General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Army Chief of Staff, by his side, met a six-member delegation of United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM).[82] Not persuaded by the assurances of the minister that the BJP Government will implement OROP, Col (retd) Anil Kaul, spokesperson for UFESMF, said, "The question of calling off the relay hunger strike does not arise unless a date for implementing it is announced and that too without dilution". Major General (retd) Satbir Singh, Chairman IESM, responding to questions, said, "We will wait for government's decision on OROP till July 15 and then take our agitation for OROP to next level in which local ex-servicemen organisations all over the country will resort to demonstrations and other peaceful ways of voicing their grievance." Next meeting between the Defence, Minister and the Ex-Servicemen representatives is likely on 6 or 7 July.[82]

6 July 2015

Anna Hazare, veteran of 1965 war, and septuagenarian political activist, wrote to Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, saying "We have to take care of our soldiers and farmers. Making hollow announcements for their welfare and actually implementing them are different things."[83] In Delhi, a day later, Col (Retd) Anil Kaul, media advisor to United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM) told reporters that Anna Hazare will be joining the "relay hunger strike on Jantar Mantar shortly."[84]

7 July 2015

Brig Inder Mohan Singh (Retd), President, Indian Ex-Services League (IESL), Punjab, announced plan to hold protest rally by ex-servicemen on 8 July on a 3-km stretch on the Barnala-Bathinda Highway, from Sub-Area HQ gate to the headquarters X Corps gate. Large number of Junior Commissioned Officers and non-commissioned officers, including many veterans of 1965 war, are expected to participate in the protest. General Officer Commanding, Bathinda, Sub-Area, to the great disappointment of the protesting ex-servicemen, declined request to provide drinking water thinking it was illegal and fearing that "an explanation could be sought for this act." Brig Inder Mohan Singh, disappointed, asked, "Is serving water and that too to veterans not a humanitarian gesture?". Protest placards read "Soldiers become veterans, veterans become beggars. This is Make in India"; "Once a soldier, now a humiliated veteran"; "In no other country veterans protest as in India"; and "Indian soldiers' enemies- some across borders some in Delhi".[85] Bhatinda type protest on OROP, according to Brig (Retired) Inder Mohan Singh, will be also conducted in front of other military stations. There are 14 Army stations and 5 Air Force stations in Punjab.[86]

Justice T S Thakur, Supreme Court Judge, in a hearing on contempt petition by retired Major General S P S Vains, gave Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, six more weeks to implement OROP. Pinky Anand told the judge that "modalities of the implementation of the OROP were being devised" by the Government. The next hearing is on 24 August.[87] The Supreme Court Judgment on 9 September 2008 in the case of Union of India and Maj Gen Vains and Others had ruled: (a) No Defence Personnel Senior in rank can get lesser pension than his junior irrespective of the date of retirement (b) Similarly placed Officers of the same rank are to be given the same pension irrespective of the date of retirement.[88]

8 July 2015

Ex-Servicemen protesting against Government failure to implement OROP blocked traffic on Bathinda-Chandigarh highway from 10 am to 1 pm, and sat in dharna in front of the police post in Bhatinda cantonment. Brigadier Inder Mohan Singh (retired), IESL, submitted a petition to a representative of headquarter X Corps (Chetak Corps) South Western Command. Brigadier Inder Mohan Singh indicated that the next protest will be in Amritsar, in which Captain Amarinder Singh former Punjab chief minister and Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, is likely to participate.[89]

The police arrested six ex-servicemen and charged them under Indian Penal Code sections 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). The arrested include: Bhinder Singh, Ramji Das and Sukhdev Singh, from Sangrur; Baldev Singh from Tarn Taran; and Kartar Singh, and Baldev Raj Joshi, from Bathinda. The police also registered cases against over 150 others who have not been named.[89]

9 July 2015

Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, in Lucknow said, "Since issues like this (OROP) involve more than one ministry, hence there cannot be any time-frame for its implementation." This contradicts his statement earlier in Delhi in which while referring to OROP he said, "There will be good news soon."[90]

10 July 2011

[91]

11 July 2015

Five retired Lieutenant Generals, four Major Generals and one Air Marshall of the Indian Air Force, joined the protest at jantar mantar, in New Delhi. Many of these general officers belong to the famous June 1971 Indian Military Academy (IMA) course, the "Born to battle" course, that was sent into the 1971 war as Second Lieutenants (2/Lt). One of the 2/Lt from 'born to battle course' who went to war in 1971 was Arun Khetrapal, troop leader, Poona Horse, who was awarded posthoumously the Param Vir Chakra, the nations highest award for valour in the famous tank battle of Basantar. Another 2/Lt from the 'born to battle' course, who joined the protest was Lieutenant General (Retired) Rajinder Singh Sujlana AVSM, VSM, former Colonel Commandant of the Sikh Regiment, and X Corps Commander.[92]

13 July 2015

Punjab based ex-servicemen organisations, including All India Defence Brotherhood (A constituent of the United front of Ex-Servicemen(UFESM)), State Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (SEWA), and Ex-Servicemen’s Joint Action Front (Sanjha Morcha) held a protest rally at the Dussera ground Mohali. Ex-servicemen participants in the large rally included Lt Gen SR Ghosh, former GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lt Gen RS Sujlana, former Commandant Indian Military Academy and GOC X Corps, and Major Generals Dhillon, DP Singh, IP Singh and Amarjit Singh. The participants unanimously resolved to boycott functions during the visit of Defence Minister on 25 July to inaugurate ‘Mai Bhago Institute’ for training of girls to join the Defence Service. Brig Harwant Singh (Retd), President (UFESM), issued a Press Statement which stated that government inaction will force the ex-servicemen to resort to Direct Action.

17 July 2015

Defence Minister has set up a five-member committee consisting Lt Gen Richard Khare, (Retd), former Military Secretary; Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal,(Retd), former Adjutant General; Major Navdeep Singh, Territorial Army, Chandigarh-based High Court lawyer, and commentator of service conditions; and Major DP Singh, Kargil war wounded. The committee will look into Armed Forces grievances relating to service matters and pensions. The committee is expected submit its findings and recommendations within 60 days. No official announcement on the committee has been made by MOD, or the Defence Minister's office, but media reports suggests that the term of reference of the committee include making recommendations on measures to reduce litigation by Armed Forces members and Ex-servicemen, including the MOD which is a frequent litigator. There are over 10,000 cases by military personnel before the Armed Forces Tribunal, the High Courts and the Supreme Court, most of them against the Ministry of Defence, or prompted by its decisions, on service matters relating to pay fixation, promotions, policy interpretation, pensions and military justice.[93]

19 July 2015

Wing Commander S D Karnik, 80, winner of Vir Chakra for gallantry in 1971 war, who refused to meet with Manohar Parrikar, the Defence Minister, on 28 May, an incident reported widely by the national media, said, in Pune, "I got call from the Central government, asking me to rethink about my stand and saying that declining the honour would be an insult. This shows that the government is concerned about its image but not about the soldiers who fought for the country".

Group Captain Ravindra Pathak (Retired) of the Pension Cell of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement says, OROP is not about money, but respect, " this battle is for asserting our rights. In the civil-military balance, which is essential to India’s defence philosophy, political control of the defence forces has actually turned into the bureaucratic control. It is the bureaucracy which has become the biggest obstacle to OROP."[94]

21 July 2015

Rao Inderjit Singh, Minister of State for Defence, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, confirmed "principle of OROP for the armed forces has been accepted". In response to a question he denied that OROP is under consideration for paramilitary forces.[95]

UFESM issued notices inviting veterans, veteran organization, and 'citizens of India', to participate in a "Kargil vijay divas run on 26 July". The run to unite veterans on OROP will be flagged off from DSOI, Dhaula Kuan, at 0500 hrs. It will pass through Teen Murti-Akbar Road-Janpath-Rajpath-India Gate-Kharg Singh Marg-Rajeev Chowk. It will end at Jantar Mantar, the site where ex-servicemen are fasting in protest against BJP Government failure to address their grievances. After the run, the runners will assemble at India Gate at 0800 am to pay homage to Kargil war martyrs, "who gave ultimate sacrifice to ensure that you sleep well". The ceremony at India gate will include laying wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti.

24 July 2015

On the 40th day of the Relay Hunger Strike at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, and protest in other locations in the country, Maj Gen Satbir Singh, SM (Retd), Advisor United Front of Ex-Servicemen and Chairman IESM, in written message to veterans said "we have upgraded our Agitation with effect from mid night 23 Jul 2015". The agitation in the new phase, he said, will be "peaceful and within the authorised methods of protests in the Constitution". The aim will be to raise awareness on One Rank One Pension (OROP) and related issues, and 'Create Visibility' in all the Districts in the County". The planned measures include: 10 Kilometre Kargil Vijay Diwas Marathon from DSOI, Jhajjar district"; dharana outside the residences of MP, who fail to follow up on OROP in the Parliament; possible Hunger Strike till death; and submission of Memorandum to Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, by delegation of United Front of Ex-servicemen at 1 pm on 26 Jul 2015. In the meanwhile Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, continues to attract ex servicemen of all ranks. On 24 July, Maj General Satbir reported that officers from the 1st National Defence Academy (NDA) course, who are in their 80s, visited Jantar Mantar, Delhi, to show solidarity with the relay hunger strikers and express disapproval of government policy.

26 July 2015

To coincide with Vijay Diwas (Victory Day) events to mark the Kargil War, UK based Non Resident Indians (NRIs) held a one-day hunger strike to protest BJP Government failure to implement One rank One pension (OROP), outside the High Commission of India, London. A spokesperson for the protesters said similar protest are planned in other international cities, including in the US and Middle East, and that "NRIs all over the world are concerned and feeling pained about the developments and therefore thought of coming together in support of the soldiers."[96]

31 July 2015

Admiral Ram Das Former Chief of Naval Staff visited Jantar Mantar to meet with and show solidarity with the Ex-servicemen and widows of veterans on hunger strike protesting the BJP Government failure to implement OROP and honour its election pledge. Admiral Ram Das made a donation to the ex-servicemen movement and said that he would write to all former Chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Airforce to overcome their inhibitions and visit Jantar mantar to show solidarity with the protesting ex-servicemen. "These are the men you commanded and it is time to come in support of their demand of OROP", he said.[97]

August

13 August 2015

General S F Rodrigues, former COAS, and Admirals L Ramdas, Arun Prakash and Sureesh Mehta, former Chiefs of Naval Staff, wrote an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The letter says the denigration and humiliation of veterans "has come as a rude shock to all of us." The letter flags issues affecting veterans, and the armed forces of India, including "The hostile approach of MoD bureaucracy" to the armed forces, especially its pensioners; the prevarication by the Government in implementation of OROP, which has "forced a disciplined and politically-neutral segment of society into the jaws of party-politics". "Recent developments" the letter concludes "have not only triggered a process of politicization of the Indian military, but also served to inflict grave damage on its morale and self-esteem"; and that these developments pose grave "implication for national security" , which "merit your attention, not only as the Commander in Chief but also as the First Citizen of India." [45] The President, or his office, has not responded to the letter.

14 August 2015

Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister of India, acting in all probability on the promptings by the Intelligence Bureau, authorized Delhi Police, a police force under the Ministry of Home Affairs, to evict by force ex-servicemen, families of ex-servicemen, and war widows, from Jantar Mantar, the site of Ex servicemen protests. The Police Contingent, consisting of personnel drawn from the Delhi Police, and Central Reserve Police Force, a Counter Insurgency and Internal Security Force under the Ministry of Home Affairs, in camouflage dress, unsupervised by senior officers, without advance warning, swooped down on the protesters. The protesting Ex servicemen, many in their eighties, were manhandled, 'pushed around', dragged, humiliated,[22] and lathi-charged. Their tents were forceably removed, placards and other equipment damaged.[22] Group Captain VK Gandhi (retired), said, " the police action against the veterans, a day before Independence day, "is totally unjustified". " It will be a "black Independence Day as they have tried to curb our independence," he added. 82-year-old Vishambhar Singh, 5 Grenadiers, said "I was pushed by the cops who even tore my shirt". Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, Chairman of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, after the police raid, told the Press Trust of India, "This is shocking and obnoxious. Nothing can be worse. We are the protectors of India's Independence. We are requesting the Police Commissioner to restore our tents since we had permission. The move to remove our tents is barbaric, undemocratic and dictatorial."[23][24]

The Delhi Police officers justified action against the peaceful gathering at Jantar Mantar claiming they acted "following a request by New Delhi Municipal Council", civic agency [98] and because of security risk and threats. "As Delhi is on a high alert ahead of Independence Day so", a senior police officer said. " we are removing the protesters to ensure security."[23]

The ex-servicemen were outraged by Delhi police officer’s baseless allegations that they were a security risk, and posed a "security threat". A protesting army veteran, in outrage said, "How can you doubt our integrity? Or consider us a security threat? We served the country in protecting it and now we have become security threat."[23]

The orders to Delhi police to remove the Ex servicemen, were rescinded on 14 August afternoon, following public outrage, and intervention by General VK Singh, on behalf of the ex-servicemen, with Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister, according to ex-servicemen. The Home Minister's orders to stop the police action against the ex-servicemen was conveyed Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi by Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home. "I have asked the Commissioner of Police not to remove the ex-servicemen from Jantar Mantar and let them continue the protest", Kiren Rijiju said.[22][98]

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Minister of Chief, following the Delhi police action against veterans, tweeted, "Ex-servicemen being forcibly thrown out of jantar mantar? Bizarre. They protected us till yest(sic). Now they r security threat for independence day? (sic)."[23]

Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister, in explanation of the delay in implementing OROP said, there were "technical difficulties", but would be implemented soon, "during the government’s tenure".[33] Arun Jetley, the Finance minister, who is believed to be stalling the implementation of OROP, said that "the arithmetical translation" of OROP was posing a problem because of " several interpretations (of the definition of OROP)".[33] The difference in the estimated expenditure on implementation of OROP between the defence ministry ( for full implementation of OROP) and finance minister is around Rs 4,000 crore.[33]

15 August 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 69th Independence Day of India address to the nation from the Red Fort, New Delhi, refers to "One Rank One Pension" as a problem "pending to be resolved".[99] While asserting that the Government has accepted "One Rank One Pension" in principle, he made no commitment on when and in what form it will be implemented. He added ambiguously, "How it (OROP) is implemented in view of its nitty-gritty situation(sic), we are taking the talks forward by engaging with its stakeholders." [99]

17 August 2015

Col Pushpender Singh and Hav Major Singh on fast-unto-death

Ten former Chiefs of the Armed Forces of India (7 former chief of Indian Army staff, 2 Chiefs of Air Staff, and 1 Chief of Naval Staff), in a unprecedented joint open letter urged Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister, to order an inquiry into the brutal police action by Delhi Police against the peaceful gathering of veterans in Jantar Mantar, on Independence Day eve and to resolve the OROP issue expeditious. The Signatories to the letter include retired Generals Vishwa Nath Sharma, Shankar Roy Choudhary, Sundararajan Padmanabhan, Joginder Jaswant Singh, Deepak Kapoor and Bikram Singh; retired Air Chief Marshals Nirmal Chandra Suri and Shashindra Pal Tyagi, and retired Admiral Madhvendera Singh.[42]

Colonel (Retd) Pushpender Singh (ex-3 Grenadiers) and Havaldar (Retd) Major Singh (Ex-3 Sikh Light Infantry), began hunger strike-unto-death at Jantar Mantar. Havildar Major Singh belongs to the same Regiment as Retired General Ved Malik, former Chief of army Staff. They were joined by Havildar Ashok Chauhan, Corps of signals, on 18 August. Col (retd) Anil Kaul, media adviser to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement said "They are still on fast and their condition is okay".[100][101]

18 August 2015

General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Chief of Army Staff, late in the night on 17 August, called Major General Satbir Singh, and urged him to meet with Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to the PM, on 18 August 2015. Major General Satbir Singh and Lt General Balbir Singh, representatives of the ex servicemen, after initial hesitation, met Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to the PM, at 1000h on 18 August 2015, to discuss resolution of the OROP. This was first overture from the government to the Ex servicemen since the protest started in June 2015. Mr Misra urged the Ex Servicemen representatives to end the protest.[100] The ex-servicemen representatives informed Mr Misra that ex servicemen will end their protest only after the Government gives an assurance that it will not alter the accepted definition of OROP, implement OROP for all pensioners with effect from 1 April 2014, and ensure that all future enhancements will be automatically passed on to past pensioners. Mr Misra failed to give an assurance on the issues raised by the Ex servicemen. During the meeting Mr Misra was reminded of BJP's commitment, made in its manifesto, to build a martyrs memorial and set up veterans’ commission, to be manned by veterans. Mr Misra seemed unaware of these commitments by the BJP. In the presence of the ex-servicemen representatives, Mr Misra called the Defense Secretary and asked him to brief him on these subjects.[100]

21 August 2015

Vijay Singh, (IPS- 2005), Deputy Commissioner Police,(DCP)-1 New Delhi, who led the police contingent to evict Armed Forces veterans from the Jantar Mantar transferred as Deputy Commissioner of Police(DCP) North West District. Delhi Police PRO Rajan Bhagat calls it routine transfer, and denies media reports that this was because of police action against veterans on 14 August 2015.[102]

22 August 2015

Rallies by Ex servicemen in support of the OROP movement were held Udham Singhn Nagar, Mohali, and Mysore.[103]

23 August 2015

On 70 day of the Relay Hunger Strike (RHS), called Satyagraha by some ex-servicemen, 25 Ex-servicemen, from 14 Indian States, were on RHS at Jantar Mantar. The fast unto death by Col Pushpender Singh(Grenadiers), and Havaldar Major Singh (Sikh Light Infantry) entered the eighth day, and by Hav Ashok Kumar Chauhan (Signals) the sixth day.[103]

United Front of Ex-Servicemen (UFESM) organized a candle light march, and vigil, to honor, and remember, armed forces members killed in the 1965 war. Over 4000 ex-servicemen, and civilians, participated in the event. Participants lit candles, and laid bouquets at Amar Jawan Jyoti, at India Gate. "Sainik parliament" had passed a resolution to boycott all government functions, including by the armed forces, till implementation of OROP.[103]

Veterans and their Wives, including and war widows, protested police action on 14 August, against the veterans in Delhi, and delay in implementing OROP, in Dehradun, the State capital of Uttarakhand. Participants included Lt Gen TPS Rawat, (4 Gorkha Rifles), a former minister, Lt General Gambhir Singh Negi (former Colonel of 3 Gorkha Rifles), Maj Gen Lalji D Singh (Corps of Engineers, Bombay Sappers), Maj Gen Chander Nandwani, Brig KG Behl , Brig RS Rawat, Brig Vijay Kumar, Col PL Prashar, Col GS Cheema Col AK Khullar, Brig CB Thapa, Col SC Tyagi, Maj SS Chowdhury, and Col Kukreti, first JSW course [104]

A joint Kisan rally- ex-servicemen was held at Satara. the rally was attended amongst others by Anna Hazare. An estimated 10,000 people attended the rally where many speakers urged the government to bring the "OROP issue to an early closure".[103]

Large number of ex-servicemen, and civilian supporters, visited Jantar Mantar, to show solidarity with ESM cause. These included: officers from Short Service Courses (SS) 2, and 31; National Defence Academy (NDA) course 46 and 75; 55 and 85 Indian Military Academy; and officers from the 14 Army Education Course; and twenty five officers and their families came from Jaipur. The movement continues to gain momentum, and perceptible increase in support and participation by former high ranking officers of the armed forces, from Lt generals, Admirals, air marshals, Group Captains, and Colonels. Old veterans included Sep Ram Kishan, 93 years, Armoured Corp veteran of World War 2; Sep Ram Bharose Yadav, 85 years, a blind veteran of 72 Medium Artillery; and Mrs Savita Rai Singh wife of Brig Rai Singh(90 Year old) Maha Vir Chakra. Many visitor contributed substantial sums to the cause.[103]

Mrinalini Singh, wife of Colonel Sangram Singh Katoch, and daughter of General VK Singh, the former Chief of Army Staff and union minister in the BJP Government, after her visit to Jantar Mantar, told the media, "I feel that the babus (bureaucrats) are putting a spanner in the works". She revealed that her father, who has yet to visit the Ex Servicemen, or openly declare support for the ex-servicemen cause, has written to the PM about OROP, and met with him, . "I will certainly ask my father to join the protests, and ask the PM to visit the veterans here along with the Defence Minister", she said.[103][105]

24 August 2015

Colonel Pushpendra Singh, one of three veterans on hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, was evacuated to Army Research and Referral Hospital, Delhi, in a private car, due to deteriorating condition.[106]

25 August 2015

On 72 day of the Relay Hunger Strike (RHS), 37 Ex-servicemen were on RHS at Jantar Mantar.[107] Col Pushpender Singh(Grenadiers), was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Army Research and Referral Hospital ( R&R), Havaldar ( Hav) Major Singh (Sikh Light Infantry), on 10th day of his fast unto death refused to be evacuated; and Hav Ashok Kumar Chauhan (Signals) on the 8th day, was vacuated to R&R due to muscle atrophy. The other hunger strikers, who were all fit, were: Major Piar Chand, 2 Grenadiers; Hav Sahib Singh, 2 Rajputana Rifles; and Naik Uday Singh Rawat of 12 Garhwal Rifles.[107]

Visitors included Rajeev Chandrasekhar Indep MP Rajya Sabha; and Ms Nalini Singh, Journalist. The meals for the day were provided by Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, and Col Gurdeep Singh.[107]

General Satbir Singh met Ajit Doval, National Security Adviser and Former head of Intelligence Bureau. This is the first report of NSA's interest and concern in OROP. The outcome of this meeting and issues discussed is not known.[108][109] According to Media reports Doval is expected to take an "overall view of the situation" and be involved in the "final negotiations".[109]

26 August 2015

Major General Satbir Singh (Retd), head of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, met Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to PM. General Dalbir Singh, COAS, was present at the meeting. After the meeting General Satbir Singh said, "The implementation of OROP as per our definition now appears to be in sight," and that 2013-14 would be the base year for the implementation of the OROP and payments would be made retrospectively from 1 April 2014.[108]

27 August 2015

Capt Amarinder Singh, Congress MP and former Punjab chief minister, a 1965 war veteran, declared his support for OROP. He tweeted: "The unfortunate events of this hunger strike could have been avoided by the timely implementation of OROP".[108]

On 74 day of the Relay Hunger Strike (RHS), at Jantar Mantar, 39 Ex-servicemen and four war widows (Veer Narees) were on RHS.[107] In Ambala and Pathankot, RHS entered the 70th day and 74th day respectively.

There were 8 person on indefinite fast, 4 at Janatr Mantar, and 4 in Research and Referrals Army Hospital (RR): Col Pushpender Singh(Grenadiers), in RR, twelfth day. Hav Ashok Kumar Chauhan(Signals), in RR, 10th day. Major Piar Chand and Hav Sahib Singh were evacuated to Research and Referrals on advice of the doctors.

Havildar Major Singh (Sikh Light Infantry), at Jantar Mantar, on the 12th day of his fast was joined by his brother. In addition there are four more soldiers, and and father of a martyred soldier Sunil Kumar Yadav, on indefinite fast, at Jantar Mantar.

Visitors to Jantar Mantar included: Mrs. Charu Sheela(95 yrs) mother of Col. Pushpender; representative of Rashtra Sewak Trust; Air Marshal J S Bawa and Lt Gen Suri; and Officers from 10th NDA and 19th IMA courses. Breakfast and Lunch was provided by SSC NT-27 & Technical-18 and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib.[107]

28 August 2015

Ex Servicemen representatives including Major General (retd) Satbir Singh, Chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, and Group Captain VK Gandhi, meet Rajnath Singh, Home Minister, in his office in the Ministry of Home Affairs, in Delhi, at his invitation. This is the first meeting between officials of the MHA and ex servicemen since 14 August Police action against ex servicemen in Jantar Mantar.[110]

The impasse over implementation of OROP continues. "We are rather disheartened. The government is saying it (pension equalization) will be done after five years, which is totally incorrect because it will defeat the very definition of OROP," Major General (retd) Satbir Singh, said. "We are not asking for more than what was sanctioned. What they are offering us is not acceptable to us. I think the bureaucracy is not in favour of giving us OROP. The intention is first to dilute it and then deny it." [110]

Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, lays wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, at India Gate. PM Narendra Modi, PM, tweeted, "As we mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war, I bow to all brave soldiers who fought for our motherland in the war." [106][110] Military veterans boycott official function at India Gate to mark the start of month-long golden jubilee celebrations of the 1965 war.

A "parallel commemoration" of 1965 war coinciding with the capture of Hajipir Pass by Major Ranjit Singh Dyal, MVC, 1 Parachute Regiment, is attended by several veterans of the 1965 war, including Brigadier (retd) D P Nayar, a veteran of the attack on Hajipir, and Wing Commander (retd) Vinod Nebb. Wing Commander Vinod Nebb who was 22, in 1965, on 6 September, on an alert from air defense commander, Ambala, while on a combat air patrol sortie over Ludhiana, Punjab, brought down a Pakistani Sabre jet fighter for which he was was awarded Vir Chakra, India's third highest gallantry award.[106]

The Times of India, in an editorial comment wrote that Ex Servicemen demands of OROP are "not a sustainable proposition" and taxpayer money "will be recklessly splurged if the demand is accepted." [110]

31 August 2015

Arun Jaitley, Finance minister, says, "I have my own formula on what OROP means. Somebody else may have their own formula on OROP but it has to be within reasonable and rational criteria. You can't have an OROP where pensions are revised every month or every year". UPSEM disagree with the Minister, say there is only one definition of OROP. Colonel Kaul, spokesperson for the Ex servicemen, says, the controversy over the 3 percent (annual) increment in pension, is a red herring and intended to cause "misinformation & misunderstanding". The UPSEM alleges that Arun Jaitley, is manipulating the media, specifically, the Times of India, and India TV channel, to misinform the public, and exacerbate difference between the Officers and soldiers, on the OROP issue.[34]

On 78 day of the Relay Hunger Strike (RHS), Havildar Major Singh (Sikh Light Infantry), who is on fast since the 16 August, is joined by Naik Udai Singh Rawat, Sawal Ram Yadav, father of martyr Lance Naik Sunil Kumar Yadav, navy Commander A.K. Sharma, Subedar Vijay Singh Yadav and Subedar Keshaw Singh.[111]

Ram Jethmalani, former BJP member, visits Jantar Mantar, declares support for OROP, and blames the finance minister for delay in implementing OROP.[111]

September

1 September 2015

On 79th day of the Relay Hunger Strike (RHS), there were 28 Ex-servicemen, and wives of three Ex servicemen on Relay Hunger Strike at Jantar Mantar. In Ambala and Pathankot, the RHS entered the 75th and 79th day respectively. There were 4 ex servicemen on hunger strike in the army Hospital, and 8 at Jantar Mantar. Hav Major Singh, who has been on fast since 16 August, has lost 10 kilo of weight. He continues to refuses to end his 17 days old fast, take medicines, or be evacuated to hospital.[112]

3 September 2015

Leaks by Government sources to media suggest that it may unilaterally announce implementation of One Rank One Pension in next 2 to 3 days.[113] Ex servicemen Representative Maj General Satbir Singh while acknowledging that he had met with Nripendra Misra, Principal Secretary to PM, made clear there were no on going negotiations with the government. Nothing had been agreed to so far. Referring to questions raised on the financial implication of OROP he said that when the government sanctioned Non Functional Upgrades to the All India Services[9]:para 11.20after the 6th Pay Commission no question on the financial implications were raised .[113]

Shekhar Gupta, calling ex servicemen protest unedifying spectacle on a popular English language TV news channel, argued that ex-servicemen should accept what is offered.[113]

See also

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