After the 1971 war, the entire country was rejoicing and celebrating the win of India over Pakistan. This war was considered one of the greatest which changed the geography of the sub continent. The war which earned the title Durga to Indira Gandhi! The armed forces were feted everywhere and appreciated for their impeccable service and courage. Although our country lost 4000 soldiers and 10,000 were wounded and scared for life, the pain was masked in the victory of the country. They had to continue their life in the forbidding world.
The government under Indira Gandhi was suppose to give the best possible gift to the soldiers who brought great pride to the country by sacrificing their life. But what happened was an utter tragedy and back stab.
A bunch of bureaucrats who knew nothing about armed forces and their sacrifice introduced a new policy to ensure that the Armed Forces was cut in size. Mr. K B Lal who was the Defense secretary was the main culprit who recommend the changes in the pay scale of Armed Forces. He headed the Third Pay Commission and suggested two points:
– First to abolish the separate Pay Commission to Armed forces and included them under civilians. So according to the rule, ‘a trained infantry soldier with three years of service is below a skilled labour”. This was the most inhumane decision which hit the armed forces badly. The Infantry Soldiers are the ones who stand in the first line of defense, they are the ones who bleed protecting every inch of our land, they are the ones who constitute 90% of the casualties.
– Second suggestion was to reduce the percentage of pension for armed forces. The OROP which was active till 1972 was cancelled in the Third Pay Commission under Indira Gandhi. So the soldiers served for 15 years and went on pension life at the age of 33-35 years. His pension was 70% of the basic pay and officer’s pension was 50% of basic pay. But majority of the soldiers used to retire at the age of 50. On the hand hand civilians pension was 30% of basic pay, but remember they served till 58 years of age, where as a soldier cannot serve till 58 years.
The third pay commission raised the civilian’s pension to 50% and reduced the army pension from 70 to 50%. Further the government put mandatory 33 years of service in order to get full pension. But when many people refused to this move, as an eye wash the government reduced the mandatory service to 25 years. Therefore the soldiers got just 30% of pension after 15 years service and 50% of pension after 25 years service. So basically the government cut the armed forces pensions from 70% to 30% and raised civilian’s pension from 30% to 50%. The only reason no soldier raised their voice against the then government was because they trusted the government so much believing that it would never betray the son who fought for the country.
The Indira Gandhi government made this move very cleverly. The entire process to cut the armed forces was done after they won the 1971 war and just 2 months after Field. Marshall Manekshaw relinquished his post as Chief of army. So they made sure that Fd.Marshall Manekshaw, the most powerful person of India could not oppose the government.
The Last target was in fact none other than the most famous and respected man in the army and country Fd. Marshall Manekshaw. Generally once elected as Marshall, the person never retires, he continues to wear the 5 stars on his shoulder till end. He is entitled for pay and allowances for life. The bureaucrats and the government who were extremely jealous of his name and popularity cut all his pay and allowances for the next 36 years of his life. He was left with no pay, no facilities by the Indira Gandhi government and the government which succeeded later. It was the most heinous act ever done by any government to a man who won the 1971 war for India, for a man who lead his life with at most dignity and served India with all respect!!!
A total amount of Rs 1.60 crore was due which was to be paid to Fd.Marshall Manekshaw. In the year 2007, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam who got to know the story, immediately took personal interest and made sure he got every bit of money he earned as a Marshall. The money was handed over to him on his DEATH BED in the year 2007 June, just few days before he breadth his last.
Isn’t this a National Tragedy?? Could there be a bigger betrayal than insulting a Man whose every drop of blood fought of our Mother Land?
Today those Congress leaders who speak about OROP and soldiers should first look at a mirror and ask themselves what morality do they have to speak on OROP! What rights do they have to speak about soldiers?
Today Rahul Gandhi preaches Modi not to chest thump about Surgical strike, even though Modi had not spoken a word about it. But does Rahul Gandhi know that it was his own grandmother who had claimed that she won the 1971WAR for India in the Congress Manifesto??? She did not even mention a word about soldiers in the successive elections she fought.