Ex-soldiers demand better pension; anger minister
Posted on: 06:12 PM IST May 27, 2008
New Delhi: Retired soldiers protesting for better pension have earned the displeasure of the junior Defence Minister.
Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju on Tuesday said the hunger strike by former soldiers was "unbecoming".It is unbecoming on the part of the dignified ex-servicemen to launch hunger strike. I don't think they should do this," he said.The former soldiers, under the aegis of 'All India Military Veterans Movement (AIMVM), is protesting for a hike announced in their pensions in the 6th Pay Commission recommendations.The group on Tuesday organised protests in about 300 cities across the country and demanded setting up of a review board to remove the "anomalies" in the Commission report besides other demands."We are looking into their grievances," Raju said on the sidelines of a Defence Seminar here and outlined that Defence Minister A K Antony had suo motto taken up their demands with the Pay Commission members.They should have waited for Empowered group of secretaries who are looking into the issue, said Raju."The government has formed ex-servicemen welfare department. We are looking into all matters. We will see how to improve their facilities." AIMVMs senior vice President Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh criticized Rajus statement and said the former soldiers were protesting because the Defence Ministry had rejected their demands.The ex-servicemen are demanding 'one rank one pension' and 30 per cent increase in their pension benefits.