It is unfortunate that the tragic suicide of retired ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal by consuming poison in New Delhi has been politicised so brazenly by the likes of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal. The theatrical duo did not even wait for the funeral before they started accusing the Centre of treachery on the issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP) and trampling of democracy by the police by its abrasive behaviour against protestors. It is such opportunism that has resulted in all politicians being treated with suspicion and disfavour by people at large. It has indeed become normal practice to shed crocodile tears and for demagogues to offer themselves for arrest so that public sympathy may be attracted towards them.
The sad thing is that everything gets politicised in India today. It so transpires that Grewal, along with at least 10 of his associates, had gone to Jantar Mantar where a protest meeting against the tardy implementation of the OROP was held. Defence personnel admit that even some ex-servicemen have fallen victim to the sinister game of politics. One retired Major-General who was in the forefront of the OROP campaign in its early days is reported to have launched a political party before the Punjab elections. He is also facing litigation from another senior ex-services officer for embezzlement when he was collecting money to spearhead the OROP movement a couple of years ago. With most of the promises with regard to OROP having been fulfilled, there are attempts to revive the agitation on the unfulfilled demands as interpreted by these agitators. A section of ex-servicemen is opposed to an escalation but that has led to a tug of war among the ex-servicemen.
The Centre could be blamed for initial delays in announcing the OROP but there is no doubt that money has been disbursed to a substantial number of beneficiaries in the form of arrears and enhanced pension benefits. There were some anomalies that needed to be ironed out but with the appointment of the Reddy Committee which has already submitted its report, the revival of the agitation is uncalled for. The politically motivated campaign to keep the issue alive is striking at the root of the morale of the forces which is dangerous at a time when the tension with Pakistan is worsening every day. A political standoff between the ruling party and a section of the opposition is the last thing that the country needs at this time. Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal were detained for a few minutes by the police to pre-empt chaos since they were inciting the crowd that had collected outside the hospital where Ram Kishan Grewal’s body was taken. The two leaders and their apologists must do nothing that worsens the law and order in the nation’s capital.