Veteran Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, aged 70 years, unhappy at government not providing OROP (One Rank One Pension) to Veterans, committed suicide in Delhi on November 2, 2016, by consuming poison.
OROP has been the focus of intense agitation over many months at Jantar Mantar in 2015, and the government has prevaricated and dodged the core issue, with PM Narendra Modi, RM Manohar Parrikar and FM Arun Jaitley making different, often conflicting, always confusing statements on OROP.
The false promise and back slapping
It all began with BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's promise of OROP during with his election speech to Veterans at Rewari on September 15, 2013, with recently retired army chief General V.K.Singh by his side.
PM Modi is quoted as saying in one of his speeches in Punjab, “Humne kissanon ka pet kaat kar, Ex-Servicemen ko OROP diya”,something that could only divide the Jawan from the Kissan, undoing PM Lal Bahadur Shastri's rousing slogan “Jai Jawan! Jai Kissan!”.
A few days ago, on Diwali this year, a TV program showed PM Modi talking to ITBP and army personnel in Sumdo, Himachal Pradesh, saying that he had fulfilled the OROP promise made to ex-servicemen on the issue that had not been resolved for 40 years, and the first instalment of nearly Rs.5,500 crore had been paid for implementing the OROP scheme. He said implementing OROP was his “dream” which has “been fulfilled”.
The real truth
It is extremely surprising that he did not know that what had been “granted” as OROP was actually a sham and not the real thing, which had been objected to by Veterans who had taken the matter to Court.
Starting with OROP, multiple issues like 6CPC (Central Pay Commission) and 7CPC anomalies, keeping the military out of successive CPCs and outside the purview of the Anomalies Committee, pay parity with IAS/IPS, NFU, down gradation of military ranks vis a vis civilian officials, reducing disability pension, and lower hazard allowance than IAS/IPS, have agitated, angered and dismayed serving and retired officers and men alike.
It is true that earlier Congress and UPA governments, and one full-term NDA government, had not granted OROP, but it must be seen that the present NDA government granting OR5P was after a prolonged veterans' countrywide agitations with its core at Jantar Mantar under the aegis of Indian Ex-Servicemen's Movement (IESM). The Delhi Police (under the Union Home Minister) lathi charge attack on peacefully agitating veterans at Jantar Mantar on August 14, 2015 did much to disenchant Veterans with the ruling BJP-led NDA dispensation.
The crocodile tears and the future
Late Veteran Subedar Grewal would not know that the reason for his suicide (OROP) has been smothered by the politicization of his suicide because crucial elections are on the horizon. It is possible that the mourning family of a person who has died gets some solace when important personages call to express condolences and offer help, and it has long been “standard practice” for politicians of all hues to call on bereaved families. It is also true that such personages mix their genuine personal concern with their political agendas.
Politicians of all hues could teach a thing or two to Aesop's crocodile on shedding tears. After the current political dust settles, it remains to be seen whether Veteran Grewal's suicide in demand of OROP was in vain.