Hundreds of retired Army personnel from across the nation on Monday began an indefinite strike over the delay in implementing the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) policy.
Wearing black bands to mark the protest, the former servicemen, who gathered at Jantar Mantar in the national capital, raised slogans: Bharat mata ki jai, jis desh ka sainik sadkaon par, ush desh ka durbhagiyan hai (Hail the motherland! A country where soldiers have to come to the streets is very unfortunate).
Total 48 battalions of retired Army men have come under one banner to protest againt the government over the issue. They vow to continue with the hunger strike till the time the government does not implement the OROP.
"We have been fighting for our demands since 1982," said retired Army man Satbir Singh, chairman of Indian ex-servicemen movement .
"We are not fighting only against this government. We are fighting for our rights. We are fighting against the injustice meted out to us. We have requested the government repeatedly. We had five meetings with the defence minister and one meeting with the finance minister. We are unable to understand why they are delaying it."
"It is extremely sad. They only ask us to be patient. They don’t give us a date. It seems they might not have the will to give us our rights," Singh said, adding "We asked them to implement it in two months. It is difficult to understand why they are not specifying any date. What problems do they have?"
On Sunday, they had sent 7,000 medals back to the president, but they could not meet him as he was away. They said,"We will return our medals to our supreme commander, the president. We won’t give our medals to any of the bureaucrats."
"The government lacks the political will to implement the OROP," they said, adding that the Modi government is dilly-dalying the matter.
To protest over the delay in implementing the one-rank-one-pension (OROP) policy, over 5,000 former Army men gathered here on Sunday and threatened to start an indefinite hunger strike from 9 am on Monday till the time the government does not announce the date for implementing the OROP.
The nationwide protest is organised by the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM). The protest was launched after the talks with the union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on the issue ended without any decision.
The retired military personnel also staged similar protest against the union government across the country.
The retired military personnel are also expected to meet President Pranab Mukherjee later in the day. According to the agencies the veterans have signed a petition with blood to present to the president.
According to sources, many former army personnel are planning to return their medals to the president as a mark of their protest.