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One Rank One Pension: Delhi police manhandle army veterans, Rahul joins stir

New Delhi: Agitating ex-servicemen demanding implementation of 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) were on Friday allegedly manhandled by Delhi Police as it tried to evict them from protest hotspot Jantar Mantar here ahead of the Independence Day celebrations on the ground of security.

Giving boost to their voice, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi joined the stir and appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement OROP. “PM Narendra Modi must announce a date for implementing OROP for the ex-servicemen. These people should not be removed. They are protesting for their rights,” Rahul told media after meeting the agitating ex-servicemen.

Terming the police action as ‘barbaric’ and ‘undemocratic’, the ex-servicemen, who have been on protest for nearly two-months, wondered how can they be ‘security threat’ when they dedicated their lives protecting the country while in service.

“How can you doubt our integrity? Or consider us a security threat? We served the country in protecting it and now we have become security threat,” said a protesting army veteran.

It will be a “black Independence Day as they have tried to curb our independence,” said group captain VK Gandhi (retired), adding, “The way the police have acted against us just a day before Independence Day is totally unjustified.”

The police said they tried to evict protesters from various outfits from Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital following a request by civic agency New Delhi Municipal Council.

As the police and NDMC started clearing the protest hotspot, the ex-servicemen refused to go away. “I was pushed by the cops who even tore my shirt,” said 82-year-old Vishambhar raising anti-police slogans.

“This is shocking and obnoxious. Nothing can be worse. We are the protectors of India’s Independence. We are requesting the Police Commissioner to restore our tents since we had permission. The move to remove our tents is barbaric, undemocratic and dictatorial as it comes on the eve of Independence Day,” Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, Chairman of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement, told PTI.

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came out in support of the ex-servicemen and slammed the police for trying to evict them from Jantar Mantar. He also requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce acceptance of their demands of OROP in his Independence Day address on Saturday.

Amid mounting pressure by ex-servicemen, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Friday said the Central government may soon make an announcement on One Rank One Pension.

“We are committed to the ex-servicemen and an announcement for One Rank One Pension may be made soon,” Rathore told reporters here ahead of Independence Day.  (With inputs from agencies)