New Delhi: Major-General Satbir Singh (retd), who is leading the 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) campaign of the ex-servicemen, said on Saturday evening that they are now satisfied with the government's clarification on VRS after meeting with the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
"The government has accepted our concept of OROP. The issue of VRS has also been solved after our delegation, which met Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar this evening, told him that there is no concept of VRS in military. We have something called pre-mature retirement and the government has also accepted it," ANI quoted Singh as saying.
He further said, “After this clarification we are satisfied.”
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While replying to a question that whether the ex-servicemen will now call off their agitation on OROP, Singh said, “Will take a decision on our agitation tomorrow after discussing with the Core group.”
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore was also present in the meeting.
Earlier in the day, speaking to reporters at Jantar Mantar, the venue of the protest, Singh had indicated a softening of position towards the government, saying the hunger strike would be called off but the veterans would continue their agitation till all their major demands were met.
Manohar Parrikar, earlier in the day, announced that the government has decided to implement the much awaited OROP scheme and its benefit would be given to all ex-servicemen, excluding voluntary retirees from July 1, 2014.
"The Government has taken the decision to implement the OROP. Under the OROP scheme the benefit would be given from July 1, 2014. The base year would be 2013," Parrikar said at the press conference.
Shortly after the announcement was made, political parties began their blame game, with the ruling BJP calling it a "historic decision" while the Congress termed it "totally disappointing".
"The (Narendra) Modi government has substantially diluted the provisions of the OROP announced by the UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance). Today's (Saturday) announcement about OROP by the defence minister is totally disappointing," Congress leader and former defence minister AK Antony told the media here.
In no time, the BJP refuted the Congress accusation.
"It is the Congress's passion to criticise the government for everything, forgetting that they have not been able to fulfill this responsibility while in power," Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said here.
It is understood that a draft proposal on OROP was circulated at a RSS meeting on Friday which envisaged commencement of the scheme from July 2014, besides revision of pension every five years. According to the draft, the basis for the implementation of the scheme will be 2013 and arrears are to be paid in four instalments.
Close to 26 lakh retired servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for the defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
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Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws less pension than a Lt Colonel who retired after 1996.
(With Agency inputs)