Friday, November 4, 2016

An anguished plea by a veteran

The suicide of a veteran soldier in Delhi, purportedly over his unfufilled grievance, has brought the focus back on to the question of One Rank One Pension. A thorough enquiry will bring out the truth behind the suicide. However, it is time for everyone to be mature and responsible as the letter below from a veteran officer brings out. I am reproducing the text for everyone's benefit. Whether to follow his advice/suggestion is of course an individual decision.

Dear ABPSSP Members,

I am extremely pained about the unfortunate demise of Sub Ram Kishan Grewal on 1st Nov, 2016.Jantar Mantar has become a source of anti-government propaganda by political opponents of the ruling dispensation. It appears that he became a victim of Whatsapp misinformation fallout on OROP by some unscrupulous elements.While majority of the Ex-Service Men (ESM) have received their second installment of OROP, during September 2016, reasons for Late Sub Ram Kishan Grewal’s OROP anomalies need to be investigated factually.

As per the available information, Sub RK Grewal had served for six years in Territorial Army (TA) and subsequently twenty-one years in Defence Security Corps (DSC). At the time of his demise he was drawing INR 23,000 a month. It appears that some amongst the ESM had informed late Sub RK Grewal, that his OROP was INR 28,000 a month. Apparently, he had written a letter to the Defence Minister on 31st October, 2016, complaining about this discrepancy. Unfortunately, even before the Defence Minister could receive or respond to the letter, the said person ended his life at Jantar Mantar.

We, the members of ABPSSP, convey our deepest condolences to the family of Sub Grewal and would do whatever is within our purview to help the family to overcome their grief and their resettlement. We are extremely disturbed and upset at the politics over this “suicide”. It is disgusting to see that some politicians are openly making this an opportunistic incident by press - ganging the family at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital.

We appeal to the political class; when such tragedy overtakes soldiers, please do not exploit the families of the bereaved for selfish, political agenda. There are many ways that the political class can help the bereaved families to overcome their grief and face the tragedy rather than crudely politicizing the issue.

We are also pained to learn that some retired Officers have been instigating a segment of the ESM for resumption of protests at Jantar Mantar, by listing several misplaced demands (most of which) were unfounded and unreasonable. We appeal to JantarMantar leaders, not to play into the hands of unscrupulous politicians. Let us not ignore the feeling of disgust and cynicism among the public when they watched on the news, ESM burning their medals in July-August, 2015 at Jantar Mantar. Bitter but true – we have lowered our esteem amongst our own people.

I urge the members of ABPSSP and through them the Ex-Service Men fraternity to comprehend the “political drama” over suicide of an Ex-Service Man with an open mind and in proper perspective after considering the following: 
  •      Ex-Service Men fraternity were denied OROP for 43 years (1978-2015) by successive governments.
  •        Sensing the mood of the ESM, then Finance Minister, announced a token of INR 500 Crores for OROP in the budget of February 2014,something the government then was not serious about. 
  •      Perseverance of the Defence Minister in finalizing the OROP Scheme through several rounds of consultation with Ex-Service Men Organizations from February to September 2015, is well known.
  •     The government has not only implemented the OROP Scheme in November, 2015, but it has already paid two installments of the OROP arrears – March 2016 and October 2016 respectively.

·    To overcome the anomalies of the OROP Scheme in vogue, Justice Narsimhan Committee has traveled across the country, received representation from all Ex-Service Men organizations and submitted its report to the Ministry of Defence.

·     The Defence Minister has institutionalized periodic meetings at the Ministry of Defence with Ex-Service Men organizations and other stake holders to resolve all related grievances. Two such meetings have already been held – 14 March & 24 October, 2016.

There will always be a lot going on in the country – at the border, in the capital or anywhere in the vast expanse that we call our motherland. The day we all signed up to be part of the armed forces, it became our responsibility to safeguard our nation in all ways possible. Post-retirement, as part of the civil society, it is now one of our duties to bridge the gap between the civilians and the armed forces. I appeal for your understanding and soldierly response on all fronts of nation building activities. 

Lt Gen VM (Venky Patil)
Chairman, ABPSSP (Akhil Bharatiya Purva Sainik Seva Parishad)

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