New Delhi: As a third soldier joined his two colleagues on a fast-unto-death demanding One Rank One Pension (OROP) on Tuesday, a worried government reached out to the ex-servicemen and urged them to end the hunger strike.
And on the 65th day of the agitation on Tuesday, Delhi Police tendered an apology to the Army veterans for using force on August 14.
While addressing a press conference at Jantar Mantar here, Joint Commissioner of Police Mukesh Kumar Meena said, “I want to speak on behalf of Delhi Police that we have full respect for Army servicemen and ex-servicemen. August 14 incident will not be repeated. We are here to provide them security.”
“What happened on 14th August was due to some confusion and misunderstanding, we are with you (ex-servicemen),” he added.
Meanwhile, the veterans who are still protesting at Jantar Mantar said that they are thankful to the Delhi Police but will not end their fast unto death.
Later, Major General Satbir Singh (retired), Chairman of Indian ex-servicemen Movement, met Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office Nripendra Misra but there was no positive outcome.
The Major General (retired) said that Misra asked for time till August 25 to finalise the OROP scheme and its implementation and if there is no announcement till then, then a group of ex-servicemen will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day later on August 26.
Earlier in the day, stepping in to pacify the agitating ex-servicemen, Prime Minister’s Office held talks with representatives of the protesters who have agreed not to escalate their agitation for next 10 days.
last week, a fast-unto-death was launched by two of the protesting ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar.
The ex-servicemen have demanded that an FIR be lodged against the defaulting policemen and officials.
They even demanded "suspension of the officer who had ordered this barbaric crack down on peacefully agitating ex-servicemen".
Agitating ex-servicemen demanding implementation of OROP were on August 14 allegedly manhandled by the police as it tried to evict them from protest hotspot Jantar Mantar in the national capital ahead of the Independence Day celebrations on the ground of security.
However, as the police and NDMC started clearing the protest hotspot, the ex-servicemen refused to go away.
The ex-servicemen later announced that Union Minister VK Singh has conveyed to them that Home Minister Rajnath Singh was informed about the incident and he has instructed the Delhi Police Commissioner to allow them to continue their agitation.
The ex-servicemen had threatened to intensify their agitation after Prime Minister Modi said during his Independence Day address that the decision on the OROP scheme would be taken soon.
One Rank, One Pension scheme has been a long-standing demand of nearly three-million ex-servicemen and war widows in the country. It seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to defence personnel, who retire at the same rank with the same length of service irrespective of their date of retirement.
(With Agency inputs)