New Delhi: Protesting ex-servicemen refused attempts of eviction from Jantar Mantar on Friday when the Delhi Police and the New Delhi Municipal Council tried to clear out the area for Independence Day citing security concerns.
“All protesters were told on Thursday to vacate Jantar Mantar, but the OROP protesters are adamant not to leave. That is why the police are forcibly removing them,” the DCP had said before the decision was reversed.
Police were subsequently forced to call off the eviction exercise and let the protesters continue with their demonstrations. “We have not given any permission to continue, but we will not be evicting them anymore,” said Vijay Kumar, DCP (New Delhi). He refused to cite any reasons for the change in decision which he said was a joint one by the police and NDMC.
Earlier, ex-servicemen resisted eviction by the Delhi Police and NDMC from the protest site. The police were trying to clear the area in view of security concerns ahead of Independence Day.
The move came under attack from the veterans who termed it as a “Black Independence Day”. As police and NDMC started clearing the protest hotspot, the ex-servicemen refused to go away and alleged that cops manhandled those protesting quietly.
“I was pushed by the cops who even tore my shirt,” said 82-year-old Vishambhar shouting anti-police slogans. However, a senior police officer claimed that it was a drive by NDMC to clean the area and cops were assisting them.
The ex-servicemen have been sitting on a relay hunger strike for about two months now, demanding that the Union Government implement the One Rank One Pension (OROP) policy.
On Friday morning, the NDMC and the police asked all protesters to leave Jantar Mantar for 24 hours, until Independence Day celebrations were complete. The DCP said that the NDMC had planned a drive to clear the area for Friday and Saturday.
Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted his support for the protesting ex-servicemen. Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was also at the event, where he demanded the implementation of OROP.
Mr. Gandhi wasn’t allowed on stage but he said, “PM should have seen technicalities before promising OROP, the govt should implement it quickly.”
Dinakar Peri adds:
The eviction move comes amid speculations that Prime Minister is likely to make an announcement on the implementation of OROP in his Independence Day speech. OROP aims to bring parity in pension based on rank and duration of service irrespective of the date of retirement. It had been a major election promise of the BJP government before Lok Sabha election last year. While the government has given in-principle approval, final implementation has been delayed due to disagreement within on the modalities.