New Delhi, 29 Oct : Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that decisions taken by the government over the past few weeks had adversely affected the morale of the armed forces and caused them “pain and hurt”.
The letter comes a few days after Modi started a campaign #Sandesh2Soldiers to invite people to send letters and messages to the armed forces on Diwali.
In the letter, written on Friday and released to media on Saturday, Gandhi said he was saddened by actions taken by the government in the last few weeks and urged that soldiers should be shown care not only through words but actions.
“As we celebrate Diwali, and rejoice in the victory of light over darkness, let us send this message to our soldiers that our gratitude is expressed both in words and in deed. This is the very least we owe to those who give up their today to secure our tomorrow,” he said.
Gandhi called upon Modi to address “anomalies” in the 7th Pay Commission with regard to the armed forces and implement the One Rank One Pension (OROP) in a meaningful way.
“I am writing to bring to your attention several reports emerging in the media about decisions taken over the last few weeks by the government, that I believe adversely affect the morale of our armed forces.
“I am saddened that in the last few weeks actions taken by the government, far from reassuring the soldiers, have indeed caused them pain and hurt,” he said in the letter.
Gandhi noted that just days after the Indian army conducted surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, “the disability pension system was converted to a new slab system, that in many instances drastically reduces the pension received by these brave men in case of a disability.”
He said the roll out of the 7th Pay Commission continues to keep our defence forces at a disadvantage and “further exacerbates the disparity between them and civil employees”.
“And finally, contrary to what was promised, OROP as implemented by your government, does not fully meet the genuine demands of our ex-servicemen and they have been forced to come out on the streets to make their voice heard on this vital issue,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi also pointed to media reports claiming that the government has “downgraded the status of military officers vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts in a letter dated October 18”.
“I therefore urge you to ensure that our soldiers get their due whether it is regarding compensation, disability pension or parity with civil employees.”
He said that their demands must be met “because soldiers should not have to struggle to claim what is surely due to them on behalf of a grateful nation”.
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