No ulterior motive behind attending ex-servicemen rallies: Army Chief

Jhajjar (Haryana), May 16: Clearing his position about attending ex-servicemen’s rallies under the aegis of Army Headquarters, Chief of Army Staff General V.K. Singh today exhorted veteran soldiers to take up the case of one rank one pension (OROP) with their elected representatives, so that the required Rs.1300 crore to implement the OROP can be arranged by the government.

The Army always endeavors to reach out to its veterans through such rallies, addressing multifarious welfare schemes, including pension adalats and health exhibitions etc.

Addressing an ex-servicemen’s rally at the Palra Stadium in Haryana’s Jhajjar district, General Singh repeatedly tried to clear the purpose of holding these rallies, as doubts had been cast over the timing and locations of the army chief holding contact programmes by none other than Lt. General (retired) Raj Kadyan, the president of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement.

In last two months, this is the second ex-servicemen rally to be held in Haryana, the home state of General Singh. The first was held at Gurgaon.

Questioning the timings of these rallies in March, April, May and that too most of it in Haryana, Lt. General Kadyan said that though the army chief is the father of the ex-servicemen community, but it is difficult to avoid the inference that this is happening after he lost his age row case.

“Army Chief should have been doing this all along in his tenure. Now, there is an impression that he is doing all this because he lost in the Supreme Court… All his contacts with ex-servicemen have started after February 10. If it was a continuing effort before and after that, it would have been a better signal,” he told a leading English daily.

Dispelling the rumours about these rallies having any other motive other than the welfare of ex-soldiers, General Singh said: “Through these rallies, we are taking all steps to bridge the gap between the army and the ex-servicemen, and sort out the problems faced by them.”

“In less than two years, we have tried to take forward the demands of the ex-servicemen with the government. OROP requires Rs.1300 crore for implementation, and I urge the ex-servicemen to ask their public representatives to take up this matter with the government,” the army chief further said.

General Singh also mentioned about a toll-free helpline number to receive complaints of ex-servicemen and ensure their speedy resolution.

During his visit to Palra, which also happens to be village of Victoria Cross recipient Captain Umrao Singh, General Singh failed to find time to lay a wreath on the statue of the brave soldier.

Umrao Singh was the only non-commissioned officer in the Royal Artillery or the Royal Indian Artillery to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War.

Nearly 7000 ex-servicemen of five districts participated in the Palra rally. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)