The rally was attended by more than 8000 ex-servicemen from sepoys to Generals and more than 100 families. Veterans' of all three services recorded their presence and demanded early release of notification for OROP. The mood in the rally was upbeat and all veterans exuded confidence and thanked IESM for taking up the problems of ex-servicemen and bringing them to the center stage. Ex-servicemen were very appreciative of the help being given by the pension, ECHS and CSD div of IESM.
The Veterans exhorted the IESM leadership to continue the fight on behalf of ex-servicemen and their families with the Government till their demands were accepted by the Government. They all appreciated the stand of IESM for calling this rally to remind and request the Government for early release of notification. ESM praised IESM for declaring that this rally is not to confront the Government but it has been organized to assist the Government to over-rule the objections by the bureaucracy for release of OROP.
Speakers; more than 50 speakers including women speakers addressed the rally. They exhorted the Governing body of IESM to increase pressure on the Government and confirmed their resolve that ex-servicemen would not accept anything less than full OROP.
List of Speeches; All the speakers were applauded by the crowd. All speakers encouraged the IESM to continue the fight for fulfillment of demands of ex-servicemen and fight for justice and equality. Speakers after speaker asked one question to the Government what is holding the Government in taking a decision on the OROP, which has been passed by two Parliaments and is personal commitment of PM of India? All present shouted that we would not rest till OROP is granted for all ORs, JCOs and officers'. All speakers explained the meaning and origin of OROP.
The Speakers also criticized the Government policies of neglecting the defense personnel after extracting juice from their life and thereafter forgetting them. Army personnel are forced to retire after service of 20 years and at the age of 37 to 40 years. This is the time in their life when they have maximum responsibilities and have old parents to look after but are without a job and on meager pension. It should be the responsibility of the Government to give them job till 60 years of age as is the case of all Government employees.
Speakers warned all present and the ex-servicemen community at large to be very careful from few disgruntled veterans, who had been working against the interest of IESM. These veterans were spreading rumors and were collecting funds on the name of IESM. This activity by these veterans was a fraud on the ex-servicemen community. All ex-servicemen were requested to give membership fee and donations only by cheque in favour of IESM a/c no 06162000001330. Some of the ESM had been spreading rumours about cancellation of the Rally but despite their propaganda more than 8000 ESM gathered for the rally.
Speakers also expected more improvement in ECHS and canteen facilities where in they wanted these services to be extended to all the ex-servicemen in villages, where bulk of the ex-servicemen settle after retirement. All the speakers were unanimous in demanding more pensions for widows. They expressed that the widows were the most neglected segment of ex-servicemen family. It was surprising that the Govt did not pay any attention to the widow of a soldier who had given his life for protecting the nation.
IESM Delegation Met the Raksha Mantri;
IESM delegation consisting of 30 ESMs and widows was invited by Raksha Mantri to discuss their problems and their expectations of OROP. ESM from all states joined the delegation and went to Kotah House to meet the RM at 1100h. COAS Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag was also present in the meeting.
Raksha Mantri welcomed all ESM and their families and explained that he was convinced that OROP is a genuine demand of Armed Forces/ex-servicemen and must be given. He further expressed that he has gone into all nuances and finer points of OROP and has understood the OROP and genesis of OROP. He stated that he has over-ruled the objections of MOD that if OROP is given to Armed Forces other services will also demand it. He confirmed that Armed Forces pension should be called Mil Pension and hence other services are not entitled for it. He appreciated that service conditions of Armed Forces are very difficult and they need more compassion from the nation and the Government.
He further explained that he is working on the financial effects of OROP and would soon send the file to Ministry of Finance. He made following commitments to the delegation. * That OROP would be as per definition approved in the Parliament. * That there will be no dilution in OROP from the approved definition. * That he would approve the file soon and would send it to Ministry of Finance latest by 17 Feb 15. * That he would personally discuss the OROP with Finance Minister and get it approved at the earliest and may be within a month. * That OROP will be applicable w.e.f 1 Apr 14 irrespective of its date issuance of Government letter. * That he is targeting to release OROP letter as per approved definition before End March 15.
He further explained that he has been quoted out of context about 80% satisfaction. He explained that in any situation there will be some who would object and his comment on 80% satisfaction level was for them. He again emphasized that his effort was to ensure that there should be no anomalies in the letter issued for implementation of OROP.
The delegation explained to him that there will be no anomalies if the approved definition of OROP is followed without change of its text.
The delegation members brought to his notice the plight of veer naris. Gp Capt VK Gandhi explained that these widows were denied increase in pension in 2009 on flimsy grounds by MOD. This increase in pension was given to all ESMs. This was a very insensitive decision on part of MOD to deny increase in pension for widows. RM queried from widows about their pension and their difficulties. He was told that a widow gets only Rs 3500/ pension and they are living a life of great hardship. RM sympathized with them and explained that he was not aware of their problems and would look into these problems. He instructed COAS to put the issue to MOD. RM explained to the delegation that he has instructed to cancel all legal cases filed by MOD in case of disabled soldiers.
The issue of grant of arrears of increase of pension from 1 Jan 06 was also brought to his notice Gp Capt VK Gandhi and it was explained that while central Government employees had already been paid the MOD has not initiated any action on release of payment. MOD is probably taking shelter that only litigants will be paid. This is not a valid ground to refuse payment of arrears. This decision/attitude will force veterans/Armed Forces personnel to go to court for release of arrears from 1 Jan 06. This will be against the stated stand of honorable RM. He promised to look into this issue.
The delegation was happy about the commitments made by RM and came back with an upbeat mood. The delegation has felt for the first time that there is someone in Government who is sensitive to their litany of woes and he is RM of India Mr Manohar Parrikar.
Discussion with COAS Gen Dilbag Singh Suhag; Delegation members discussed their problems with COAS after meeting with RM was over. The delegation explained to COAS that they were facing difficulties in ECHS and CSD even in areas with high density of veterans. COAS explained that he had included ECHS and CSD for veterans in his high priority list. He had issued instructions that ECHS administration needed to be more compassionate in attending to veterans. His instructions were that atleast two staff members should be there to welcome all patients coming to polyclinic for treatment. These staff members would guide or provide wheel chairs to senior veterans on coming to polyclinic.
He was similarly looking into CSD facilities. He also confirmed that he had issued instructions to commanders that they should liaise with state CM and improve working of zila sainik boards in the cities and improve the condition of sainik aaram gahs where-ever available. He assured the delegation that he was doing his best to take care of veterans because soon he and other seniors would join veterans on retirement.
Maj Gen Satbir Singh SM, Chairman of IESM; Maj Gen Satbir Singh recounted the sacrifices made by the ex-servicemen and asked the Government that why should a sepoy who had fought in 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars and in 1999 in Kargil war get less pension than the sepoy who was retiring today. He explained that Government had now realized that ex-servicemen need more compassion from the Government and the nation and had in principle approved OROP. He lamented that notification of OROP has not been released by government on some pretext or other even after nine months of its approval. He explained that today’s rally had been organized only to remind the Government to keep up their promise and release the Government notification for OROP at the earliest. He informed the gathering that a delegation of about 30 ESM and Veernaris had just met the RM at 1100h today. RM was very sympathetic to ex-servicemen and widows and he had given his commitment that he would ensure that OROP file would be sent to MOF latest by 17 Feb 15 and he would personally follow up with the Finance Minister for its approval. RM had committed that OROP will be as per definition approved by Parliament and it would not be diluted. In-fact RM went a step further and told that OROP is special to only Armed Forces and will not be applicable to other central government employees. OROP will be called Military Pension and is special to only Armed Forces.
He invited all ex-servicemen associations in India to come forward and join hands with IESM and fight for the right of ex-servicemen. He stated that unity of purpose is the call of the day and all ESM organizations must unite to fight for injustice being done to Veterans. All present roared and shouted that Gen Satbir tum lado hum tumhare saath hain. The Gathering shouted slogans OROP le ke rahenge le ke rahenge. Fouji ekta zindabad zindabad. IESM zindabad.
Chairman thanked veterans for coming for the rally despite their other pressing works and extreme cold weather. Admin arrangements; Water, tea, biscuit and Mathhi arrangements were made for the gathering. It was appreciated by the veterans. All members of the Core group whole heartedly participated in making the rally comfortable for the veterans. Parallel Rallies All over India; ESM all over India spread over Varanasi, Kanpur, Mumbai, Secunderabad, Tricity Chandigarh, Chennai and Trivandrum also presented memorandums to Gov/CM/DC for onward transmission to Government. One copy of these memorandums was received by IESM office and was included in the memorandum presented to RM. IESM appreciates the enthusiasm of state conveners in arranging the rallies in their area. Press coverage; Press and media in India and abroad covered the event. Headline today, INDIA TV, and PTC channels were present in full form and had recorded the proceedings of the rally. World media has also reported the event. Local media all over India also covered the parallel rallies arranged by conveners Membership; More than 300 members joined IESM during the rally.
Donations; IESM is very thankful to veterans who had wholeheartedly contributed funds for the rally. More than Rs 20000/ were received as donations during the rally. IESM appreciates the contribution of all veterans and expressed that this money would be used for welfare of ex-servicemen and realizing the dreams of all veterans and widows. Vote of Thanks; IESM thanks veterans in making the rally successful. Gen Sec thanked ESM that they had come from 14 states of India to participate in rally. Gen Sec thanked veterans for participate in the rally in large numbers despite extreme cold weather.
IESM thanks Col Alexander for giving support to design and produce banners and back drop banner for stage free of cost. IESM thanks all the veterans for donating generously for the cause of ex-servicemen. THE FIGHT FOR OROP WILL CONTINUE TILL NOTIFICATION FOR OROP IS ISSUED. IESM REQUESTS ALL THE VETERANS' AND SUPPORTERS TO DONATE GENEROUSLY FOR VETERANS' CAUSE. PLEASE MAKE THE CHEQUES IN FAVOUR OF 'INDIAN EX-SERVICEMEN MOVEMENT A/C NO 06162000001330.
IESM requests members to not to be misled by anti IESM propaganda by few politically motivated veterans. IESM has been established for welfare of veterans and will continue to represent veterans (whether IESM members of not) with the Government. IESM will dedicate itself in solving problems of veterans. The Rally was closed at 1500h.
Gp Capt VK Gandhi VSM