Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt Amarinder Singh today joined the veterans’ march to Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore and submitted a memorandum supporting the stand taken by the three services chiefs against the bias against the defence services in the Seventh Pay Commission.
The march was led by Lt Gen (retired) SS Brar, the senior most amongst the veterans participating, and included among others senior retired army personnel including several Lieutenant Generals, Major Generals, Brigadiers, Colonels, JCOs and soldiers.
Senior Congress leaders including Ms Ambika Soni, Ms Asha Kumari and Harish Chaudhary also joined the veterans in their protest march.
The memorandum addressed to the President of India, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said, “the community of veterans across the country fully endorses the stand taken by the Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force with regard to the recommendations of the seventh Central Pay Commission”.
Briefing reporters, Capt Amarinder and other veterans said that it was the bias of the bureaucrats against the armed forces and the blind eye turned by the political parties running the government and those out of power which has led to this situation. “We constitute the largest share of employees and pensioners and we have no say in the decisions made by a handful of bureaucrats which are imposed on the Armed Forces”, they said.
“The brazen and blatant discrimination against the defence forces has been continuing ever since Independence”, the veterans argued, adding, “the lowering our status in the Warrant of Precedence, lowering our pay scales vis-à-vis other government cadres, brining it below the police and now the central police organisations is a deliberate attempt to belittle the armed forces”.
Capt Amarinder said, such repeated wrong steps on part of the government can only demoralize the defence forces. He said, India cannot afford a demoralized defence service with a belligerent China and mischievous Pakistan being next door neighbours. “Just because our soldiers belong to a disciplined force does not mean their rights are trampled upon”, he said, while hoping that the better sense prevails on the government and the anomalies are removed at the earliest.
“Nobody among the bureaucrats knows about the hostile conditions in which our soldiers are made to work and that is the reason there is such a bias against the defence forces”, he said, pointing out, according to the recommendations while a soldier posted at Siachen Glacier will get Rs 38,000 extra salary, while an IAS officer posted in Assam will get Rs 58,000 extra.
“I have been suggesting to the Defence Minister that the bureaucrats who have habitually been creating hurdles and hindrances in providing better pay to the defence personnel should be made to serve in Siachen for at least a day so that they realise what a soldier goes through”, he said, while asking the Defence Minister to stand by the soldiers and get the anomalies removed at the earliest.
Capt Amarinder said, this is not only an issue of salary to the defence personnel, but their status vis-à-vis other civilian services including the police and the administrative. He said, the defence services have constitutionally to be put higher to the civil and police services. Once their salaries are less than those in corresponding ranks in the civil and police services, their status will get lowered down which is not in the national interest.
“If the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations are accepted as such, what will happen in a situation like Kashmir where army is assigned the job as a last resort, will it be asked to work under the local police and administration?” he asked.
The veterans who participated in the march included Lt TS Shergill, Lt Gen SS Brar, Lt Gen AS Sekhon, Lt Gen SR Ghosh, Lt Gen JP Singh, Lt Gen RS Sujlana, Lt Gen JS Dhaliwal, Lt Gen Baljeet Singh, Lt Gen Iqbal Singh, Maj Gen Tarlochan Singh, Maj Gen SPS Bains, Maj Gen GS Grewal, Maj Gen JS Sidhu, Maj Gen HS Malhi, Maj Gen SPS Grewal, Brig HS Lamba, Brig Kiran Krishen, Brig JS Jaiswal, Brig IS Gakhal, Brig HPS Bedi, Brig IJ Singh and others.
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