OROP battle: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar shares details of disbursement of revised pensions to soldiers

NEW DELHI: The suicide by Army veteran Ram Kishan Grewal in Lutyens’ Delhi by consuming poison snowballed into a political row with Congress V-P Rahul Gandhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other Opposition leaders attacking the Modi government on the issue.

The suicide exposed the rift in the ex-servicemen community on the ‘one rank one pension’ issue, with accusations of embezzlement, political ambitions and deliberate prolonging of protest hurled at those continuing the protest despite a resolution mechanism. The uproar after forced the government into action.

OROP battle: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar shares details of disbursement of revised pensions to soldiers
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar shared details of the disbursement of revised pensions to soldiers. His ministry officials said that majority of demands of ex-servicemen have been met.

A large section of veterans are angry over the prolonging of the public protest on the issue at Jantar Mantar.

They accuse Maj Gen Satbir Singh of nursing political ambitions. The vocal leader of the movement — who announced on October 27 that the public movement on OROP would recommence on November 1 — had recently floated a political party in Punjab, where elections are due early next month. The Fauji Janta Party, of which Maj Gen Singh is the chief patron, has said that it aims to work with “military precision in the governance of states and at the Centre.”

Social network groups of veterans that discuss pension issues have called for action against the retired officer. One message read: “Gen Satbir you have blood on your hands. The jm (Jantar Mantar) claims one life thanks to you and your blind followers.”

Maj Gen Singh did not respond to calls, but sources close to him said Grewal had not been at the Jantar Mantar protest site for months and the movement had always abhorred any form of violence. However, veteran groups have squarely blamed the ongoing protest for the death. “The Jantar Mantar team should be legally booked for instigating suicide by one of us,” another message read.

Sources have told ET that several approaches were made by prominent ex-servicemen associations to the Jantar Mantar protestors to withdraw, given that a resolution mechanism — the one-man Reddy Committee has submitted its report recently — was in place. “It is time that this protest at Jantar Mantar is stopped. Sad that my worst fears have come true. The government had done its bit and Reddy panel has also submitted its report,” Brigadier Vijay Raheja (retd) said.

The other known face of the movement Lt Gen Raj Kadyan (retd) has filed a case of embezzlement of funds in which one of the accused is Maj Gen Satbir. Its is under investigation.

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