New Delhi: The 74th day of agitation over delay in One Rank, One Pensionon thursday started on a hopeful note for veterans but there was no breakthrough by evening even as talks at different level within the government continued.
A government team led by Nripendra Misra, the principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is looking into the matter now, said informed sources.
United Forum of Ex-Servicemen chairman Major Gen. Satbir Singh (retd.) told IANS that no breakthrough could be reached on Thursday as Misra did not meet them.
“We could not meet government representatives today since they were with the prime minister. We came to army chief General Dalbir Singh’s office, waited and then came back,” Major Gen. Singh told IANS.
Sources told IANS that the veterans did go for a meeting, but the principal secretary was not present.
“We have urged the army chief to talk with them, and let us know,” said Singh, adding the point of contentions between government and them remain the same as Wednesday.
“The differences remain as they were. If the issue is not resolved the protest will continue… We are holding people back from joining fast unto death…” he said.
Maj. Gen. Singh (retd.) added that they are trying to meet Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday and have sought the army chief’s help for this.
The veterans also said they will boycott all government functions for commemoration of 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.
On Thursday morning, the veterans had expressed hope that a breakthrough will be reached soon over implementing the One Rank, One Pension scheme for them.
“We are hopeful that a breakthrough will be reached soon,” Col Anil Kaul (retd), the spokesperson of the ex-servicemen’s front had told IANS.
The differences between government and veterans on the issue are cetered around three major points.
Sources told IANS that the government wants 2011 to be the base year, while the veterans said it should be at the 2014 level, along with a three percent increment every year, which the government was not agreeing to.
Besides, the government wants payments to begin from April 1, 2015 as against the agreed date of April 1, 2014.
If the date of implementation is 2014, the government will have to pay arrears of over Rs.12,000 crore.
Meanwhile, two more army veterans, who are on fast-unto-death, were evacuated from Jantar Mantar on Thursday after their medical condition deteriorated.
“Major Piar Chand (retd) and Havildar Saheb Singh (retd) have been evacuated and are being taken to a hospital,” Kaul told IANS.
Saheb Singh joined the indefinite fast on Monday replacing Col Pushpender Singh (retd), who is still in hospital, while Chand joined the indefinite fast on Tuesday.
Pushpender Singh and Major Singh on Thursday entered the 12th day of their indefinite fast while Havildar Ashok Kumar Chauhan entered the 10th day.
In addition, four more soldiers and the father of a martyred soldier Sunil Kumar Yadav were sitting on indefinite fast, the statement added.