INDIAN MILITARY VETERANS "INSULTED" BY THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT
Date: 10 Feb 2009
Tuesday, 10 February, 2009
Thousands of Military Veterans including former Generals and other high ranking officers have returned their medals to the government protesting the non-implementation of their main demand ‘one rank; one pension’ (OROP).
The Armed Forces and the Military Veterans have been conveying their grievances through all sorts of democratic means, ever since the Sixth Pay Commission submitted its recommendations to the government.
While the Military Veterans formed a forum called ‘Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement’ (IESM) and took to the streets, the Armed Forces remained disciplined and focused on their job, despite the raw deal given by the government.
The IESM has been conducting nationwide protest demonstrations such as sit-in fasts, protest marches, rallies, etc for almost two years now and all those demos have been extensively reported by the media, both print and electronic.
The Armed Forces and Veterans have had very reasonable demands such as One Rank One Pension, Resettlement of Veterans, Representation of Soldiers on Premier committees, Inequities in the sixth pay commission, formation of a separate commission for the defence forces, compensation for war-disabled and early retirements, etc.
Compared with the civil & paramilitary services, the military services have been blatantly discriminated against with regards to service recognition as well as pay packages.
The Military establishment has objected on the grounds of ‘Disparity in Pay Bands’ and it took several representations and meetings for the government to finally accept only a few demands.
As the Armed Forces are a disciplined lot, they waited patiently before accepting the revised pay structures, which were offered by the government after consistent pressure heaped on it by the military.
But then, the demands made by the veterans have not been met and they were indeed shown scant regard by the government. Visibly upset by the government’s disregard, the military veterans have been on a relay fast at the capital (Jantar Mantar, New Delhi) since 16 December (2008), the day symbolising the surrender of the Pakistan Army in Dhaka in 1971.
Veterans representing all the states from throughout the country have been taking part in the relay fast non-stop. The government with utmost contempt ignored even this and ultimately the veterans decided to return their medals even while continuing their relay fast.
They took out a huge rally, which was attended by more than ten thousand ex-servicemen yesterday, and went to Rashtrapathi Bhavan and handed over thousands of medals.
None of the cabinet ministers or higher officials from the government have bothered to meet the protesting veterans and the Honourable President too didn’t have the magnanimity to meet them, but simply deputed an officer in the rank of a Deputy Secretary to accept the medals.
This is the second time such an instance of returning the medals has happened during this UPA government’s tenure. First, the family of martyrs of Parliament attack returned their medals in protest against the government’s refusal to hang the dreaded terrorist Afzal Guru.
Now, thousands of military veterans have returned their hard earned medals protesting against the government’s total disregard for their noble sacrifices.
This government’s lackadaisical attitude towards the modernisation of armed forces and taking care of their welfare has directly affected their operational preparedness.
When the military is sadly not in a position to conduct operations even against terrorists, what will happen in the event of a conventional war is anybody’s guess. This is quite evident from the fact that the defence ministry has returned a whopping Rs 16,000 crores to the centre without spending it.
The government has the mind to waive thousands of crores of loans of farmers and others and it has the mind to throwaway thousands of crores on freebies, but it doesn’t have the required responsibility to address the genuine grievances of the veterans thereby allocating a few hundred crores, which is a pittance when compared with the huge funds allocated to other services.
No nation in the world insults its soldiers, but the UPA government has earned the infamy of doing precisely that. It has not only insulted the soldiers, but also brought shame to the nation itself.
The civil and paramilitary departments are given a better deal than the military, which is doing a great service of taking care of the nation’s security and protecting its people in the toughest of environment. Patriotism is needed to respect, honour and treat the military well and the UPA government doesn’t have it.