Panaji: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday said that he would not like to discuss the OROP issue with ex-soldiers with a political leaning or ex-servicemen who had formed political parties.
Addressing a press conference here, he also said that only “four to five” per cent of the retired soldiers had not been drawing benefits of One Rank One Pension, because the pensions department in his ministry could not trace their records, some of which dated back to the 1962 India-China war.
“Those who have become politicians, those who have formed a political party… Even in our party there are ex-servicemen politicians, as is the case with other political parties too. They think like politicians and not like ex-soldiers. I cannot discuss about them,” Parrikar said to a query about the politicisation of the OROP issue.
“So, if they (ex-servicemen associations) are satisfied, then the rest who indulge in politics, I cannot satisfy them. I can assure you and you can go to the ex- servicemen,” he said, adding that he was in constant touch with ex-servicemen and working actively to overcome the obstacles they face.
Parrikar said that around 95 per cent plus retired soldiers were already receiving the benefits of OROP, adding that the rest were mostly old pensioners who had been drawing a pension from 1962 and their records were not available with the pensions department.
“…the 1962 war was 54 years back. There are 1965 war (with Pakistan) pensioners, 1971 war pensioners and many who are family pensioners. Their old records are not available with the pensions department,” he said.
Parrikar said that his ministry was working at alternative ways to help bring these four to five per cent former soldiers under the OROP umbrella, by gleaning their service details from other records and by getting them to sign affidavits about their service tenure. They would get the OROP benefits over the next two months, he added.