Union Minister VK Singh’s Daughter Joins OROP Protests

NEW DELHI: Union Minister VK Singh’s daughter Mrinalini has joined the ongoing ex-servicemen’s protests for the implementation of the One Rank One Pension scheme at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

“I have joined this as a daughter of a former armyman,” Ms Singh told news agency ANI. “I personally feel that OROP should be implemented as soon as possible.”

Asked if her father approves her joining the protest, since he is serving in the Narendra Modi government, she said, “I have not sought his permission and neither do I need his permission. I have come straight from Hisar because I feel for the cause,” reported news agency Press Trust of India.

The protests over OROP – on for more than two months — had escalated on Independence Day as the expected announcement of the scheme during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from the Red Fort did not materialise.

The evening before, the civic officials, together with the police, had attempted to move the protesters to clear the area around the old sundial as part of security arrangements for the Independence Day.

Furious, the ex-servicemen had talked of scaling up the protests and three of them had started indefinite hunger strike. Two days later, 10 former service chiefs wrote to PM Modi, expressing “dismay” over the government’s handling of the issue.

As the Prime Minister’s Office stepped in the next day, several police officers involved were transferred and the former servicemen agreed not to escalate their agitation for the next 10 days.

The implementation of OROP has been on hold over what the government has called “nitty gritty details”.

“It has been stuck for 20 years… Even I haven’t been able to solve it yet,” PM Modi had said on Independence Day, adding, “we are committed and we are in the final stages of deciding”.

The ex-servicemen want the same pension as those of the same rank who are retiring now. The veterans want pensions benchmarked at the 2014 rates and reject the government offer of 2011 rates. Government sources say it would mean an expenditure of Rs. 20,000 crore instead of the expected Rs. 8,000 crore.