The One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme existed for the soldiers till 1971. But after the grand victory over Pakistan, it was withdrawn in 1973.
Why? We do not know. Since then, soldiers have been demanding it but party politicians and bureaucrats have continuously refused the demands of the soldiers.
Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, in a rally in Haryana, Narendra Modi, while sharing the stage with many faujis (including Major General Satbir Singh and General VK Singh), had announced that if his party came to power, he would grant OROP within 100 days of coming to power.
But it was denied. General VK Singh got a ministerial berth and he was out of this movement. It turned out to be another jumla by Modi – just like his other promises of ridding India of black money, distributing ₹15 lakhs to every citizen, creating 1 crore jobs per year, enacting the Jan Lokpal Bill, apart from his earlier opposition to the Aadhaar, FDI, the Land Acquisition Bill, etc.
Soldiers (the veterans) came out on the street and have parked themselves at Jantar Mantar for over the past two years. They had long spells of relay hunger strikes (RHSs) and fasts unto death (FUDs). However, they were manhandled when they were marching to Amar Jyoti with the women (wives and widows) to pay homage to martyrs. Earlier, they had been lathi-charged. They were eventually thrown out by the Delhi police, which is supposedly under the control of the central government.
Since then, they have come and assembled at Jantar Mantar by 1 PM every day. They show their protest against the government’s treachery, and disperse around 5 PM. Two days back, it was 1000th day of the protest – and they marched straight up to Connaught Place and back – approximately a 2-kilometre stretch. More than 200 soldiers and women participated in this march.
The government, which is showing fascist tendencies, is plundering the working class and the peasants till their last drop of blood, sweat and flesh – to ensure a high growth only for the big capitalists of India and abroad. High GST rates, monopolised prices of petrol/diesel, food grains, unnecessary charges on our bank balances, the direct loot of banks allegedly by those who are giving high donations to the ruling party (earlier, it was Congress), waiving off lakhs of crores of money for the big capitalists – these are only a few indicators of the present government’s tendencies.
The soldiers have not been spared either. In addition to denying OROP, their rank structure has been downgraded compared to that of the civilian officials, not giving non-functional upgrade NFU and even disability pay to soldiers, reducing the aid to their children’s educational grants – these clearly show that the government’s sole aim is to benefit the big capitalists, who give them enough ‘donations’, which again has been hidden till now.
In a society, where the life of 90-95% of the population is despicable, how can soldiers expect a good life – especially the non-officer cadres, who feel exploited and oppressed even when they are in service?
The march on March 10, 2018, was cleared by the Delhi police on the condition that no slogans would be raised. There will hardly be any media coverage, especially by the houses owned by the big corporates.
Unless the economic, political, social and spiritual order of the society changes – and people gain freedom from the clutches of fascism and foreign domination – the conditions of the soldiers and their widows will not improve.
Victory to the soldiers! Victory to the people!