WE WANT JUSTICE: Ex-servicemen intensify their movement for ‘one rank one pension’ by signing a memorandum with blood in Bangalore on Sunday. The protests were held across the country
They Sign Memorandum with ‘Body Ink’ For Better Pension
Bangalore: Last year, they gave away their bravery medals and this year, they signed with blood.
Ex-servicemen from across the country intensified their movement for ‘one rank one pension’ in the form of rallies and signing a memorandum with blood, which will be handed over to the Prime Minister.
At a rally organized in Bangalore on Sunday, over 250 Ex-Servicemen from different parts of the state gathered to protest. Similar rallies were held in Mangalore, Udupi, Karwar, Belgaum and other areas.
The memorandum will be handed over to chief minister B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday.
‘FAST UNTO DEATH’
Resentment among ex-servicemen is so high that in case their request is not accepted, they will launch a fast-unto death campaign in October. “We had no other option but to sign with blood to show how dissatisfied we are with the system. We will ensure our efforts are noticed. Both the serviceman who retired earlier and the ones leaving the force now will have medical problems. In fact, the ones who retired earlier will face more problems. But there is almost 50% difference between our pension amount. Is this justified?” asked Lt Col (retired) M A Kariappa.
“Families of soldiers live in an environment not understood by civilians. There is separation from family at an early age, education of children is affected. But a soldier serves with dignity and takes whatever the government offers to him/her. But after retirement, we feel neglected. We realize the government doesn’t respect our service. We were promised free medical treatment but we got nothing. There is hardly any encouragement to send our children to the forces,” added Col (retired) H Shenoy.
“The UPA government is in the hands of the IAS. In the wars to save the country, the heads of soldiers have rolled. How many IAS officers have laid their lives? It is time our MPs realized it is for them to legislate these things and not get misguided by IAS officers. Ex-servicemen today are a neglected lot,” said convener, IESM, South, Col SS Rajan. Many of these ex-soldiers have worked in difficult conditions, high-altitude locations, have lost friends in war and are handicapped due to injuries.
‘BUT SOLDIERS DON’T CRY’
“We haven’t served any less. We have gone to every difficult area... I had a bypass surgery, and my one kidney failed. But soldiers don’t cry,” said Brigadier J S Narasimhan, one of the senior-most officers in the group who gave up his Ati Vishisht Seva Medal last year.
“I was part of the 1971 war in West Pakistan. I have seen my colleagues die, their legs blown off by landmines. We have great attachment towards each other. But now I wonder how are people valuing the service,” complained Lt Col (retired) S N Devdas.
The ones in lower ranks, such as hawaldars, are the worst affected. Their pensions are meagre and they sometimes can’t find new jobs. This 81-year-old former Ex-Hawaldar, R Narayan, gets Rs 5,561 as pension. “I have participated in two wars. Is this enough for me to survive? My wife passed away from cancer. I don’t want to be a burden on my daughter,” he said.
toiblr.reporter@ timesgroup. com