Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Diwali said Rs 5,500 crore has been paid for implementing the OROP scheme, an issue that has been hanging fire for the last 40 years, even as he lauded the valour and sacrifice of the armed forces amid tension on the border with Pakistan.
Dedicating this Diwali to the armed forces personnel, he said he has "fulfilled the promise" he made to ex-servicemen on the one-rank-one-pension scheme.
Made unscheduled stop at Chango village, close to Somdu, to wish people on Diwali. Was deeply touched by the impromptu reception & their joy pic.twitter.com/GmU345006L— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 30, 2016
Modi said the issue had been pending for "40 years" as certain people in the previous governments "did not know" about OROP, and therefore "only Rs 500 crore was allocated" for the purpose.
He also said many people thought that if the scheme was not implemented, a section of "ex-servicemen would turn against the government".
He made these remarks while celebrating Diwali with army and ITBP men in Sumdo in Himachal Pradesh's Kinnaur district.
Earlier, in his monthly "Mann ki Baat" programme on All India Radio, Modi asked the people and the state governments to find ways of forging unity across the country and work to defeat separatist tendencies and mentalities.
He hailed the people including celebrities for sending overwhelming messages to his "Sandesh2Soldiers" campaign.
In the wake of ongoing unrest in Kashmir Valley, he said, "Unity in diversity is our strength. It is the responsibility of every citizen and all governments to forge unity and curb separatist tendencies to save the country."
In an apparent reference to tension on the Indo-Pak border, Modi credited the soldiers for maintenance of peace and security in the country and called upon everyone to remember their gallantry while celebrating Diwali.
"In the wake of recent events, our soldiers have been sacrificing their everything for the safety and security of the country. Their dedication and labour has overwhelmed me completely. Let us dedicate this Diwali to our armed forces."
"I had invited everyone to participate in the Sandesh2Soldiers campaign and I have been humbled by the response. From students, villagers and traders to political leaders and sportspersons, everyone has sent a Diwali message for our soldiers," he said while referring to the jawans who are stationed in deserts and on the icy heights of the Himalayas and security personnel who are guarding our industries and airports.
Here are more pictures from my visit to Sumdo. pic.twitter.com/Rz5CEiRZga— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 30, 2016
In a veiled reference to the unrest in Kashmir Valley, the Prime Minister also called for forces of unity to be strengthened and those of separatism to be defeated.
"Unity in diversity is the strength of our country. Every citizen and every government must work to find ways of forging unity and defeating separatist mindset and tendencies," he said as he remembered Sardar Patel who strived hard to forge unity in the country and bind it together.
The Prime Minister, while on his way back from Sumdo, met civilians at Himachal's Chango village, close to the Sino-Indian border. He exchanged greetings, interacted with the people there, and offered sweets to children.
Feature Image Source: PTI