Armed force veterans to PM on OROP: You have money to gift foreign countries
but not to pay your soldiers
As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifts away aid to other nations while embarking freely on his foreign tours, the Indian soldiers continue to sit on a hunger strike since more than a month at Jantar Mantar, demanding One Rank One Pension.
A former squadron leader in the Indian Air Force on condition of anonymity told JantaKaReporter, “Our PM Modi on his world tour and glamorous rock star meetings must have busted hundreds of crores of rupees.” He said, “His visit was marked by generosity of unprecedented kind in the form of financial aid and credit line to those countries which hosted PM Modi. During the same, PM Modi promised $1 billion towards relief aid and $1 billion for ongoing infrastructure for five years to Nepal, $2 billion to Bangladesh, $1.8 billion to Sri Lanka, $1 billion to Mongolia, $500 million to Mauritius, $100 million to Vietnam, $80 million to Fiji, $75 million to Seychelles. With this the PM’s generosity has easily exceeded $8 to $10 billion. A portion of this freebie could easily have been allocated towards meeting the demands of us ex-servicemen’s OROP.”
The former Air Force officer also questioned if PM Modi had followed the right procedure while ‘throwing away’ taxpayers’ money. He said, “The big question is: what was the inter-ministry consultation process when PM Modi gifted $2 billion aid to Bangladesh or declared $ 1.8 billion to Sri Lanka or Mongolia or Mauritius? This reminds me of kings and emperors visiting other territories in old times.”
Major General Satbir Singh (retired) agrees adding that the money gifted to foreign countries by PM Modi was indeed astronomical. He said that it didn’t make sense that while the government had Rs 50,000 crore for the foreign countries, India’s soldiers were forced to sit on hunger strike for something which can be taken care of in just Rs 8,500 crore rupess.
Union Defence Minister Manohar Parriker had on Thursday said that there will be good news soon on OROP for the soldiers. However, Major General Satbir (retired) doesn’t buy these suggestions. “What does soon mean? Does soon mean 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years or 2 decades? This is all rubbish. We are not dumb. We have brains, we have eyes and we have speaking power. However, the government doesn’t want to see or hear. They have closed their eyes and ears to this issue. Foreign aid is good but first they should pay their own country’s soldiers.” Maj General Satbir told Jantakareporter.com.
“I have written four letters to the earlier PM Manmohan Singh and two letters to Narendra Modi. Their junior staff is sending it all back. Then, they ask us why we are sitting on hunger strike. The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha shouldn’t function if they can’t resolve the OROP issue. We protect the country and therefore, they can run the economy. Aren’t they supposed to honor the written agreement between the soldier and the nation?” asked the army officer.
Maj General Satbir also revealed some startling figures related to the average life expectancy of soldiers in India, saying it was much less than that of a civilian. “A soldier’s life expectancy in India is 20 years less than that of a civilian. Startling, isn’t it? A jawan (upto the rank of hawaldar) dies between 59-64 years on an average, a JSO dies at 67, while a civilian dies at an average of 72.5. Still, it is less even compared to a railways officer. Can Bharat exist without a soldier? It is embarrassing for India to let other countries see how our jawans are sitting on hunger strike.”
As per the current law, pensioners who retired before 2006 draw less pension than their counterparts and even their juniors. Under OROP, someone who retired in 1996 will get the same pension as someone who retired in 2006.
“OROP was included in the presidential address made to both the Houses. Therefore, it should be the first thing to be looked after. Then why are they not listening to us? We have been denied for 67 years and have been brought at least four-five steps since 1950. This is obnoxious to say the least,” concluded Maj General Satbir.
Will the government listen?