In an effort to secure and sanitise the capital before Independence day Delhi police began driving protestors out of Jantar Mantar, the designated area for protests in Delhi. They were unsuccessful in removing all groups though, the ex-military servicemen proving to be the most troublesome of the lot.

A group of ex-servicemen have been protesting at Jantar Mantar for last few weeks now. They are demanding the implementation of One Rank One Pension (OROP) from the NDA government.

Many of the ex-servicemen present at the protest were reportedly dragged and pushed around by the policemen and New Delhi Municipal Corporation was seen dismantling one of their tents.

The protests have garnered support from the entire country, various politicians have lent them their support. Vice President of Congress, Rahul Gandhi, visited Jantar Mantar on August 14 to show his support and solidarity towards the cause. He spoke to the media present, saying, “I ‘m not here representing a political party. The PM should give a date as to when he can bring in OROP. All this protest will end then.”

Unfortunately for the Congress scion the protestors have not forgotten the many years Congress denied them OROP under their leadership. Therefore his attendance was met chants of “Go back Rahul” and a refusal to let him give a speech.

Don’t reduce a valid protest into a photo-op,” said a protester.

Gandhi was forced to cut his visit short and ended up leaving the venue quite soon.

Letter to the President

A few days ahead of Independence day few retired military chiefs sent a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee asking him to intervene in the matter. They warned that denying OROP will severely damage the jawan-officer relationship.

The letter has raised concerns that the two month long protest at Jantar Mantar has resulted in the politicisation of the military. The letter urges the President, who is also the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, to step in to negotiate on behalf of the ex-servicemen and bring an end to the agitation.

Anything which denigrates or humiliates the veteran also hurts the self-esteem of the serving soldier – because he sees himself as tomorrow’s veteran. Thus, the recent developments have not only triggered a process of politicisation of the Indian military, but also served to inflict grave damage on its morale and self-esteem,” the letter was signed by former service Chiefs Adm Arun Prakash, Adm Sureesh Mehta, Adm L Ramdas and Gen SF Rodrigues, as quoted by Economic Times .

Ex-servicemen protest for One Rank One Pension at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on August 11 | Source: PTI

A number of people have questioned the government’s reluctance to implement OROP, stating that denying this would have a severe impact on soldiers serving in the field.

The servicemen have mentioned in their letter that failure to implement this policy would mean the government is going back on a promise. ” Since no administration has deemed it appropriate to convey the actual reason for the interminable delays, there is a growing feeling in the rank and file that the senior armed forces leadership has not done enough to pursue their cause. An erosion of confidence such as this could inflict severe damage on the officer-jawan relationship,” the letter further reads.

The ex-servicemen have also rejected the latest proposal on One Rank One Pension. They have maintained that they don’t want any change from what was initially proposed and do not want OROP to be diluted. They want OROP to be implemented in letter and spirit as approved by the Parliament.

The implementation of OROP will cost the government approximately Rs 8,300 crore annually.

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Feature image source: PTI