Monday, August 23, 2010
Ex-Servicemen Return Medals
NEW DELHI: In a major embarrassment for the government, over 5,000 ex-servicemen on Sunday threatened to return their medals over the government’s reluctance to accept their 'one-rank-one-pay' demand. They also submitted a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil on the issue. The ex-servicemen have been demanding implementation of the one-rank-one-pay policy for the last 26 years. Interestingly, ex-servicemen have timed their protest to the MPs pay hike demand in a clear attempt to put more pressure on the government. Yashpal Rathi, a spokesman of the group, charged the government with insensitivity. “The government doesn't care about us. They are only concerned about us when we are fighting the enemy on the battlefield. But now we are considered as junk. Our protest is futile unless our demands are discussed in Parliament,” he said. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a few months ago said that the demands of the ex-servicemen were being looked into. On March 5, 2010 the prime minister had said that a committee that was tasked to look into the demand did not come up with a favourable recommendation. “The factual position is that we have constituted a committee under the cabinet secretary to look in into issue of one-man-one-pension and other related matters. The committee did not recommend one-man-one-rank-pension,” Mr Singh had said. Defence minister AK Antony, too, had been maintaining that there were practical difficulties in accepting the demand. “The one-rank-one-pay demand for armed forces hasn't been totally accepted because it can't be given to Armed Forces alone. It would also have to be given to retired civilians, government officials, paramilitary forces and policemen,” the defence minister had said.