23 Nov 2002, 2200 hrs IST, TNN
CHANDIGARH: During her 40-minute stay at the rally, Sonia Gandhi endorsed the demand for one-rank-one-pension, which was earlier stressed upon by Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh at the North Zone Ex-servicemen rally addressed by the Congress president at the Sector 46 sports complex. Ex-servicemen have been demanding change in criteria for pension, as laid out by the fifth Pay Commission about seven years ago.
All India Congress Committee Ex-servicemen cell chairman Lt Gen MM Lakhera, who was Adjutant General when the pay commission proposals were being firmed up, highlighted the long pending demand for waiving the 33 years service criterion for earning full pension, since ex-servicemen below the rank of Subedar cannot fulfil this condition.
Lakhera also protested against the 'meagre monthly allowance' of Rs 600 to attendants of handicapped exservicemen. Both Amarinder Singh and Lakhera demanded that ex-servicemen be granted entitlement of free medical services in civil hospitals in areas where military hospitals are not available. They also pointed out that the present monthly entitlement of Rs 100 was far too meagre in case of ex-servicemen opting for medical allowance in lieu of facilities.
This amount, they said, should be enhanced to Rs 250 per month, at par with civilian employees. Gallantry award winners honoured: Sonia Gandhi honoured relatives of four Param Vir Chakra (PVC) and four Victoria Cross (VC) gallantry award winners— all from Punjab who laid down their lives during various wars, including World War-II. While the PVC is the highest Indian gallantry award, VC was the highest gallantry award awarded by the British during WW-II. The first to be honoured was Amarjeet Kaur, wife of Lt Karamjeet Singh, who laid down his life during WW-II, in 1945, for which he was posthumously awarded the VC. She was followed by Gurdial Kaur, wife of Captain Joginder Singh, who was awarded PVC for bravery during the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
Gurdial Kaur, wife of Lance Naik (honorary captain) Karam Singh, who was awarded PVC for his valiant acts in the 1948 Indo-Pak war, was presented a shawl. Karam Singh, who was commanding a section, was severely wounded. He forced the eviction of the enemy who had made a bid to recapture Tithuwal in Jammu and Kashmir. Similarly, Sukhdev Singh, brother of Captain Gurbachan Singh Salaria, who was killed in the line of duty while on a UN mission to Congo, was also honoured by Sonia Gandhi.
She also honoured Sukhwinder Singh, brother of flying officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, the solitary PVC awardee of Indian Air Force. Sekhon was killed while defending Srinagar airfield during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, during which he shot down two USmade Pakistan Air Force Sabre jets with his Britishmade Gnat on December 14, 1971. The remaining three VC winners, whose family members were honoured, were Jamandar (Subedar Major and Honorary Captain) Gian Singh, Naib Subedar Nand Singh and Havaldar Prakash Singh— all of whom died during WW-II.
Let-down: A slip of tongue by Amarinder Singh left Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Hanspal somewhat red faced. The CM inadvertently called the state president 'district president' during his introductory speech.
Curiosity value: Dressed in a grey suit and white shawl, Sonia Gandhi charmed the large number of people who had come from all parts of Punjab to listen to this 'vilaiti' woman. Waving occasionally in her typical style, Sonia presented an image of her late mother-in-law Indira Gandhi towards the end of the speech as she urged the audience to say Jai Hind thrice -- each time in a more sonorous voice than before.
Sonia calls for one-rank-one-pension: Six years ago
Present Status: No OROP for veterans
Supreme Court had passed a judgement in 1982 on the One Rank One Pension scheme for military veterans and the KP Singh Deo Committee had recommended the same unequivocally in 1984. It was also one of the main planks for protests by veterans earlier this year. However the defence minister has categorically stated its unacceptability in the Rajya Sabha today.
Government has not found acceptable the demand of Ex-Servicemen for one rank one pension. This information was given by Defence Minister Shri AK Antony in a written reply to Shri Kalraj Mishra in Rajya Sabha today. The defence personnel have not rejected the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission, he added.[PIB]
Pension Adalat extension of Bureaucratic Red Tape
Question-No.5: Pensioner of the same rank, group & qualifying service who was discharged from service from the same date is getting more pension than me.
Answer: Full details of colleague pensioner is required for checking the entitlement and making comparison. However, generally there may not be any variation between the pensions of those who are of the same rank, group, qualifying service and are of the same date of discharge unless there is some wrong fixation of pension.
Read it all: Common Questions Asked in Defence Pension Adalats By Pensioners/ Family Pensioners