New Delhi: Actress and AAP leader Gul Panag today alleged that despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "light clarification" on the One Rank One Pension issue, there is still ambiguity left over the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).
Panag, daughter of retired Lt Gen HS Panag, appealed to the government to "unconditionally" fulfill OROP promises the way soldiers serve the nation, as she claimed that veterans were actually given "One Rank Five Pension".
She was addressing the war veterans, who have been protesting for over 100 days at Jantar Mantar. Panag alleged that the government's Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) is a non-entity as there is nothing voluntary about it. She said that despite the Prime Minister giving light clarification over the issue, there is still ambiguity related to VRS.
"Even if you take premature retirement, you do so after completing your pensionable services and that is also because the country wants to keep their Army, Navy and Air Force young.
"But you can be recalled anytime for five years and even when you apply for VRS, whether or not you get it now or after four years is not in your hands," Panag, who contested Lok Sabha polls on an AAP ticket, said.
On September 6, a day after the government announced implementation of OROP, Modi had said some people were trying to "mislead" the armed forces, particularly on the issue of premature retirement.
"Jawans in the army have to retire after 15-17 years of service. A few people think they will not get OROP....they are misleading you by terming it as VRS (voluntary retirement scheme).... But if anybody gets OROP, jawans will be the first.... Those injured, those who had to compulsarily leave they will get OROP. And the Prime Minister who loves the army cannot even think of depriving such people of OROP benefits," Modi said at a rally in Faridabad.
Panag asked the government to fulfill the promises "completely". "When a soldier pledges his life to protect his country, he does it fully without any conditions and this is what we expect from the Prime Minister also, that the promise he made to us, he should fulfill it completely, not without any conditions.
"What the government has given in the name of One Rank One Pension is actually One Rank Five Pensions," Panag said. The former beauty queen also said that when the Prime Minister speaks of giving a befitting reply at the country's border, it is these soldiers who put their life at risk to guard the borders.
"When the PM says that 'mooh tod jawab diya jayaega' (befitting reply will be given), who does this? It is the soldiers who are deployed full time at the borders, and these soldiers would be ex-servicemen tomorrow. The PM should not break their faith and morale," she said.
The AAP leader also asked why the Defence Minister had not sent out any government notification regarding OROP even three weeks after the announcement was made.
Panag also sought to correct those who call the OROP a sentimental issue, saying that those who join the defence services do it for their passion for the nation and not as any other job.