The ongoing protests against the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) took an ugly turn on Monday when close to 400 ex-servicemen including their families were detained for a few hours by Delhi Police this morning while they were peacefully protesting near India Gate.
The ex-servicemen included former deputy army chief Lt General Raj Kadyan and Major General Satbir Singh (retired) who were detained under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
“The government has done an unethical and immoral act by arresting disciplined soldiers,” said Major General Singh who is the vice-chairman of the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM).
Veterans are horrified and cannot remember the last time when two and three star generals were similarly detained.
“It is a sad day in our country’s history when generals have to take to the streets going on hunger strikes and demanding higher pensions,” said Major General Surjit Singh (retired).
The ex-servicemen had arrived at the memorial to India’s war dead, on Monday morning, and were to perform a havan before sitting down on a hunger strike to press for their demands.
They were bundled into waiting police vans and taken away because they had not got permission to protest there.
“We wrote to the prime minister and home minister informing them of the decision to hold a relay hunger strike. In the absence of any communication from them, we went ahead with our plan of action.”
The IESM were to meet Sonia Gandhi on last Saturday but did not get an appointment with the UPA chairperson.
They met Minister of State for Tourism Ambika Soni and presented their demands.
Since they were not given an assurance that the government would take up these demands, they continued with their plan to go on a relay hunger strike beginning from October 20 in hundreds of locations across the country.
The IESM has been agitating for four key demands since last year.
These include the implementation of OROP or the same pension for all ex-servicemen who have retired at the same rank irrespective of the joining or retirement dates, enhanced pension to compensate for early retirement and a national level commission for ex-servicemen and including ex-servicemen representatives and widows in welfare boards.
Each year over 55,000 personnel retire from the three armed forces, a majority of them soldiers who begin retiring from the age of 35 onwards.