New Delhi: The alleged suicide of an army veteran over the OROP issue on Wednesday snowballed into a huge political showdown in the capital with Rahul Gandhi being detained twice by the Delhi police amid high drama and the movement of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal restricted.
Several leaders of the Congress and the AAP, including Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, were also held by the police even as Rahul and Kejriwal tore into Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Rahul said the Delhi police action was symbolic of “undemocratic” mentality of the Modi government, while Kejriwal accused the PM of being guilty of “deceit” and indulging in “lies” over the One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) issue.
The Congress and AAP leaders also accused the Modi government of being responsible for the death of ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal (70), a resident of Haryana’s Bhiwani district who ended his life on Tuesday by consuming poison on the lawns of a government building in Janpath. They alleged that the Delhi police were unleashed on them by resorting to unprecedented “hooliganism” in quelling their protests.
The Congress Vice President was detained at Mandir Marg and Parliament Street police stations, while Kejriwal’s movement was restricted when he went to meet the grieving family members of the deceased. Rahul was later taken to Tughlaq Road police station.
Twelve family members of the deceased, including his son Jaswant, were detained and some of them alleged that they were thrashed by the police when they came out of RML Hospital, where Grewal’s body was kept.
Several Congress leaders, including Randeep Surjewala, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kumari Selja, were detained, while police were seen dragging scores of AAP workers and many office-bearers outside the Parliament Street police station. Sisodia was kept at the police station for several hours.
The Congress and AAP leaders called the police action an assault on democracy and fundamental rights, while calling the treatment meted out to the grieving family as “utterly shameful” and “unprecedented. The BJP on its part accused the Congress and AAP of playing politics over the suicide.
“A martyr’s family is arrested. This is Modi ji’s India,” Rahul told reporters outside RML Hospital.
“How can you arrest the son and father of martyr? And if you have not arrested them, then why are you not letting them go,” he said after his request for releasing Grewal’s family members was turned down.
“A new India is in the making, you have to identify it. What is happening in India today, you have to identify it. It is a result of their mentality. It is a particular type of mentality. It is an undemocratic type of mentality.”
Tearing into Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal asserted that Grewal’s “martyrdom will not go in vain” and emphasised on the need to take his struggle forward.
Rahul was initially detained for around 70 minutes in the afternoon at the Mandir Marg police station and later in the evening was again taken into custody along with many other party leaders at the Parliament Street police station.
Kejriwal also attacked the Centre over the issue of surgical strikes and the recent controversies on ‘downgrading’ of military ranks and the ‘cuts’ in disability pension of defence personnel.
Grewal, who was a familiar face of OROP agitation, left behind a suicide note, his son said.
The police said he along with three of his companions had come to the city apparently to submit a memorandum to the Defence Ministry over the issue of OROP. However, Defence Ministry sources said as per records, no request for appointment with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was made.
Parrikar said he was saddened over the death of Grewal. “Saddened by the death of subedar Ram Kishen Grewal. I express my heartfelt condolences. I have asked officials to provide me with details,” Parrikar said in a tweet.
Amid the protests by Opposition parties, Union Minister VK Singh triggered a controversy when he said the “mental state” of Grewal needs to be probed before drawing conclusions about his extreme action.
“He has committed suicide. No one knows the reason behind it. OROP is being shown as the reason. What his mental state was we do not know. Let it be probed first. OROP should be kept above politics,” Singh told reporters, while reacting to alleged suicide by Grewal.
He went on to state that the Centre had accepted the long-pending demands of the agitating veterans and there was no need to get into “what one is saying for 4 paisa”.
Singh’s comments drew sharp reactions from Kejriwal and the Congress.
“Shame on u VKSingh. He twice got medals from President and once from COAS. He was a decorated soldier,” Kejriwal tweeted.
According to his friends, Grewal had been upset over the issue for some time now.
A group of ex-servicemen led by Major General Satbir Singh (Retd) has been protesting against the OROP scheme introduced by the government. He is now an adviser to a new political party, Fauji Janta Party, which will fight the upcoming Punjab Assembly polls.
The alleged suicide came just days after a one-man judicial committee on OROP submitted its report to Parrikar.
The Centre, which has implemented the OROP, a demand which had been pending for decades, had appointed the committee under the Chairmanship of retired Chief Justice of Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy to look into the anomalies, if any, arising out of implementation of OROP. The Ministry is currently studying the report and sources had said it will take a decision soon. PTI
‘pension delayed due to bank fault’
New Delhi: Former soldier Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, who committed suicide on Tuesday was entitled to OROP but his pension was delayed due to some problem in calculation by his bank, defence ministry sources said on Wednesday.
The delay in receiving the revised pension was due to problems in calculation by the State Bank of India bank branch in Haryana’s Bhiwani district, said sources, adding that the matter was being looked into.
“Like his other colleagues, he should have approached the ex-serviceman welfare cell. His case could have been resolved amicably like hundreds of others even if he had directly approached the ministry,” said an official.
Saddened by the death of subedar Ram Kishen Grewal.
I express my heartfelt condolences. I have asked officials to provide me with details.
— Manohar Parrikar
Grewal has committed suicide. No one knows the reason… OROP is being shown as the reason. What his mental state was we do not know. Let it be probed first. OROP should be kept above politics.