General (retd) VP Malik, India’s army chief during the Kargil victory, revealed on Friday that he acted as mediator between military veterans and the Narendra Modi government on One Rank One Pension (OROP)issue but gave up “within 48 hours”.
Gen Malik told a national media that he refused to continue as mediator because of the “big gap between both sides on the issue”.
“I can only say that, yes, I went and tried to resolve the matter because both sides accepted it,” he said.
Asked about his views on the implementation of OROP, Gen Malik said: “It has been going on. The definition of OROP has been accepted earlier. The point is whether whatever was defined will be implemented. I will not go into more details. Let us see if the Prime Minister says something tomorrow (in his Independence Day speech).”
General Malik led India to victory in the war over Kargil in 1999 when the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power at the Centre.
Ex-servicemen have been pressing for uniform pension for defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be immediate beneficiaries of the scheme. Currently, the pension for ex-servicemen is based on the pay commission recommendations of the time when they had retired.
The main dispute between the military veterans and the government is over which year’s scales should be taken as the base for OROP — the government wants to take the 2011 rates, while the veterans want those of 2014.
Both sides also disagree over the cutoff date for implementation of OROP, which would decide the number of personnel coming under its purview.
When contacted about his stand on OROP, another former army chief, General (retd) JJ Singh said, “All I can say is that the armed forces are a disciplined force and they have been obedient and loyal. What veterans have been demanding is fair and just.”
“We are hopeful and confident that the prime minister will honour his word and address their just demand,” said Gen Singh, who was the army chief from 2005 to 2007 before he became the governor of Arunachal Pradesh till 2013.
The Modi government has been maintaining that it is committed to OROP, a key promise made during the Lok Sabha elections.