The ‘One Rank One Pension’ row escalated on Monday when Colonel Pushpendra Singh, one of the retired military officers on a fast-unto-death over the implementation of One Rank One Pension issue (OROP), was rushed to the hospital after his medical report showed increased ketone levels.
“The doctor who examined him today, said his ketone level has increased and he needs to be immediately shifted. Col Singh was reluctant but we persuaded him to be moved to the hospital,” Major General Satbir Singh, Chairman of the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement told the press.
High levels of ketones are toxic to the body.
Col Singh, 63, has been fasting for a week Jantar Mantar, along with Havildar Major Singh and Havildar Ashok Chauhan (Retd). Even as he was being taken to the hospital, another veteran Havildar Saheb Singh (Retd) took his place and began fast-unto-death.
“I will come back and continue my fast. I am not ready to go but the people here want me to to as they say high ketone level will affect brain functioning,” Col Pushpender said adding that government should immediately implement the long pending issue of OROP so that the soldiers on hunger strike can end the protest.
Pushpender was initially supposed to be moved to the Rockland Hospital.
“Delhi administration and Delhi police personnel tried to hijack the ambulance and take him to RML hospital. We have taken him to Army Research and Referral Hospital in a private car. We have also requested Army Chief to ensure best treatment for him,” Col Anil Kaul (Retd), media advisor to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen said.
Ex-servicemen have been protesting for the implementation of OROP for over two months and are hoping to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon.
Four former service chiefs recently wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee, the supreme commander of the armed forces, asking him to “urgently intervene” in the OROP row.
Ten former Service chiefs have also written a joint letter to Modi seeking early implementation of OROP.
On Sunday, Mrinalini Singh, daughter of Union minister and former army man General VK Singh too joined the protest, saying she would also ask her father to join the cause.
Close to 22 lakh ex-servicemen and over six lakh war widows stand to be the immediate beneficiaries of the scheme, which envisages a uniform pension for defence personnel who retire in the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement.
Currently, the pension for retired personnel is based on the Pay Commission recommendations of the time when he or she retired. So, a Major General who retired in 1996 draws a lower pension than a Lieutenant Colonel who retired after 1996.