It is a matter of concern that service personnell who had spent the best part of their lives in service of the nation should feel so aggrieved as to return the the tokens of honour bestowed on them.
Shameful still that the President of India who is also the Commander in Chief has not cared to acknowledge even the existence of retired service personnel.
Moist eyes, they return medals
Retired Servicemen Demand
‘Equal Pension For Equal Service’
Neha Pushkarna | TNN
New Delhi: Subedar Chauhan could not hold back his tears as he parted with his medals on Saturday. He said he had worn them close to his heart all his life but only the government could not stand up to his contribution to the country.
Nearly 300 ex-servicemen returned their medals to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Saturday in protest to demand ‘equal pension for equal service.’
‘‘More than 3000 medals were collected on Saturday, which we returned at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. We wanted to give the medals to our Supreme Commander, President Patil, but she did not meet us.
If our demand is not considered, many more exservicemen of all ranks will return their medals,’’ said Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, vice-chairperson, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement — the group that initiated this protest in December 2008.
More than 2000 medals were earlier returned to the President on February 8 when ex-servicemen from all over the country, including 300 general-rank officers, had gathered at Jantar Mantar. According to the exservicemen, those who retired earlier get less pension than those who retired recently even though their number of years in service may be same.
Retd Commander Sharan Ahuja, member, Indian ESM Movement, said, ‘‘If an officer of my rank retires today after 20 years of service, he would get Rs 30,000 per month as pension. However, I get Rs 14,500 as I retired in 1994.’’
The ex-servicemen say that the disparity in the pension of the defence personnel retiring at different times is too stark because the old ex-servicemen never got adequate increment after the various Central Pay Commissions. They said that the issue has been raging for 25 years now.
Retd Commander Ahuja said, ‘‘We have fought the wars in 1965 and 1971. We had spent our lives looking after the frontiers of the country. Many of us don’t even know how many schools did our children had to change.
Many of us weren’t even around when our children were born.’’
He added, ‘‘Our medals were a testimony to all this but we had to give them up as no government has acted on our demand to have equal pension for equal service in all these years. Ex-servicemen from all the three forces are together.’’
Hawaldar Mukesh, who retired in 2004, said that government should understand the plight of the ex-servicemen after they retire.
‘‘I haven’t fought against plastic bullets. Then why is my pension less than those who retired after me.
There are no jobs for exservicemen either’’ he said. Subedar Ram Swaroop Yadav, who retired from the army in 1992 says returning the medals is as painful for him as parting with his child.