Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ex-servicemen plan to return medals to PM-Women Family Members Join Hunger Strike

Women family members of ex-servicemen sitting on a hunger strike in support of One Rank One Pension in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

‘It will send a message to country that assurances 
have not been fulfilled’.

Thousands of gallantry medals may be returned to the government soon, if veterans who have been protesting the delay in the implementation of the one rank one pension policy have their way.

Ex-servicemen, who have been on a relay hunger strike since June at Jantar Mantar, will be asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to meet them and take back 10,000 medals as a mark of protest. Though the government announced on September 5 that OROP would be implemented, the protesting veterans said there were seven major flaws in the plan.

Major General (retd.) Satbir Singh, who has been leading the agitation as an adviser to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen, said on Tuesday that they would be writing to the Prime Minister seeking appointment.

“Over the past year, 10,000 medals have been sent or given to us by ex-servicemen across India. We will be asking the Prime Minister for time, so that we can return the medals to him. The apathy of the government has left us with no other choice,” said Maj Gen Singh.

He said that in the past disgruntled ex-soldiers had returned their medals to the President, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

“But, this time we want to give the medals to the Prime Minister, as it was he who promised during the election campaign that we would get OROP. Returning the medals will send a message to the entire country that assurances given have not been fulfilled,” said Maj Gen. Singh.

The veterans said the government had not issued the notification to implement OROP, which it said would do so within a month of the announcement on September 5.

Fast by women

Meanwhile, Tuesday marked a first in the 114 days of the relay hunger strike at Jantar Mantar with only women family members of the veterans observing fast.

Sudesh Gohat, wife of Major (retd.) Ajmer Singh, said it was the plight of widows of veterans that made her join the agitation.

“Talking to widows of soldiers, who have to survive on Rs 3,500 per month as pension, moved me. Then, my husband told me that crying would not help and we must fight for our rights. After that, I have decided to join the protest till the Prime Minister gives us true OROP,” said Ms Gohat.

Every Tuesday will now be a “ladies day” at Jantar Mantar with women family members of veterans observing a hunger strike, said Maj Gen Singh. 

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