New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS): Several former chiefs of the three forces on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to condemn the manhandling of protesting ex-servicemen by police here on Friday and questioned the delay in implementing the OROP scheme.
The letter was signed by General (retd.) VN Sharma, General (retd) Shankar Roy Choudhary, General (retd) S Padmanabhan, General (retd) NC Vij, General (retd) JJ Singh, General (retd) Deepak Kapoor and General (retd) Bikram Singh, two former Air Force chiefs -- Air Chief Marshal NC Suri and Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi - and former Naval chief Admiral Madhvendera Singh.
Stating that they were "deeply perturbed and distressed" by the "high handed treatment of our veterans" on August 14, 2015 at Jantar Mantar, the chiefs said: "We unequivocally condemn the action by the police and urge the government to investigate and take immediate action."
Stating that the veterans have been on a "peaceful demonstration" since June 12, the letter said: "It is pertinent to mention that these veterans are the same soldiers, who have displayed unflinching loyalty towards the Constitution and the nation during their service and still remain motivated to die for a noble cause.
"Unfortunately their dignity and pride today stand scarred and is a cause for serious concern," the chiefs wrote.
They said this "indiscretion" on the part of police has seriously impacted the pride and morale of all ranks of the three services and the veterans.
Stating that they had not approached the prime minister earlier for having "full faith" in the announcements made by senior political leadership from time to time, the chiefs said: "We were also hopeful that the announcement of the implementation of the OROP would be made to the nation on the Independence Day."
"...Regrettably, this has not happened. Also, the high handed attitude of the police on August 14 has prompted us to raise this issue to your esteemed office."
The former chiefs said there is only one definition of One Rank One Pension (OROP), accepted by the current and previous parliaments and by the defence minister in the presence of the veterans.
They also slammed the government's statement of "technical difficulties" hindering implementation of OROP.
"The often quoted technical difficulties without ever being specified and discussed are bewildering. This is simple arithmetic based on the Standard Pension Tables of the government.
"These delays are construed to be only with a view to bring in changes in the parameters and dilute the entitlements, which will be grossly unjust and unacceptable," the chiefs wrote.
"We have full faith in our political leadership but their inability to clinch the issue leaves us dismayed. We stand steadfastly by the side of our colleagues and fully support their just cause," the letter said.
"Our silence so far was due to the need to observe propriety. As much as the OROP, the respect and dignity of the soldier is at stake here and let it be known that we have extreme concern for the veterans' long pending demands.
Urging the government to settle this issue expeditiously and in an urgent time frame, the letter said: "Any further delays, in our considered view, will be at the cost of damaging the pride of the veterans and lowering the morale of the Armed Forces. The nation can ill afford such an imbroglio."
Last week some former service chiefs had written an open letter to President Pranab Mukherjee, stating that the ongoing ex-servicemen's agitation could have "grave implications for national security" as it had severely impacted the Indian military's morale and self-esteem.