Sunday, 6 November 2016

95 per cent ex-servicemen happy with OROP, says Manohar Parrikar

95 per cent ex-servicemen happy with OROP, says Manohar Parrikar 

NEW DELHI: Amid the ongoing political slugfest over the death of ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal, who allegedly committed suicide over the implementation of One Rank One Pension(OROP), Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Saturday that 95 per cent of veterans have already got the benefits of the OROP scheme and they are happy with it. 

"Rest are very old pensioners, so their records are incomplete. We are in the process of completing the records of these 5 per cent, it will be done in the next two months," Parrikar said in a press briefing. 

The government is sensitive to OROP issue as it was not implemented for the past 43 years, Parrikar had said on Friday.

"Only one lakh ex-servicemen (out of over 20 lakh) are not getting pension as per OROP scheme due to some technical difficulty or documentation problems. We will resolve these problems in coming two months," he said. 

The scheme, announced in September 2015, among other measures, is meant to ensure equal pension to servicemen who retired on the same rank and after the same duration of service, regardless of the year of retirement. However, retired soldiers have been alleging that the government has not addressed their concerns fully about disparity in pension payments.

The issue snowballed into a major political war after Grewal, 70, a former Rajputana Rifles subedar, demanding immediate implementation of the scheme, committed suicide by consuming poison at a Delhi park on Tuesday evening. 

A combative Rahul Gandhi on Friday stepped up pressure on the government over OROP, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "lying" on the issue and insisting what the retired defence personnel were now getting was "enhanced pension" and that 'One Rank-One Pension' demand was yet to be fulfilled. 

"What PM says is One Rank-One Pension is actually pension enhancement and not OROP. PM should stop lying on the issue. "OROP is the right of armed forces personnel and government will have to give it," Rahul, who was detained thrice over two days during protests over the suicide by army veteran Ram Kishan Grewal, told reporters on Friday. 

Finance minister Arun Jaitley accused Rahul Gandhi of trying "exploit the tragedy" of the suicide of a former soldier and termed it an "irresponsible behaviour" by a national leader. 

"No one should try to change a personal tragedy into political gain, especially a party whose fortune is already sinking," Jaitley said.

He said that for 10 years, when the Congress-led UPA was in power, it did not initiate any meaningful step to implement the OROP scheme.

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