New Delhi: Over 200 retired paramilitary personnel on Monday launched a three-day protest here demanding 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) for around 13 lakh retired and serving personnel of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).
The retired paramilitary personnel, under the banner of Delhi-based All India Central Paramilitary Forces Ex-servicemen Welfare Association, gathered at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi demanding OROP and many other rights for CAPF personnel under the central civil services rules.
A retired paramilitary officer, participating in the protest, told IANS that the CAPF should be treated at par with the armed forces.
He said CAPF personnel were part of all the wars -- 1965, 1971 and the 1999 Kargil war -- as they had fought along with the Indian Army and were the "first line of defence".
He said that since independence, 22,250 army personnel lost their lives in various battles, while 33,678 CAPF personnel were killed in the line of duty.
Speaking to IANS, many other retired CAPF officials said the announcement of OROP for the army reflected the "discriminatory" attitude of the government towards them.
"We are the first line of defence in the country and guarding the national border, Maoist-affected areas, the border with Pakistan or the insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states," said P.S. Nair, general secretary of the association.
"A number of our personnel are killed in the line of duty every year. We don't understand why the government is ignoring us in providing central facilities like other armed forces. All CAPF personnel should be provided benefits," Nair said.
While there are over 9.5 lakh serving personnel in forces like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which comprise the CAPF, there are over 3.5 lakh retired personnel.
Nair said that if OROP is sanctioned to the CAPF, it would cost around Rs.2,000 crore to the government exchequer.
"Take the case of the Line of Control (LoC), where the BSF is deployed along with the Indian Army. If personnel from both the forces are killed in any operation, the family of army personnel get four times more pension than those of the BSF jawan. Is it not a kind of discrimination?" asked Nair.
He said that since 2004, they were clubbed with other government officials and that they stopped getting pension.
"After the Sixth Pay Commission was announced in 2004, the pension for all government servants were made 'contributory' in nature, with 10 percent of the salary being contributed by the employee and the government each," Nair said.
"We are soldiers too and are in a risk-prone job. One of our demands is also that the government should restore our pension benefits," Nair said.
The protesters -- including former senior officials of BSF, CISF, CRPF, SSB and ITBP -- told IANS that they had on September 30 posted a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi considering our demands.
They said they sent a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, seeking appointment with him on Tuesday to discuss their demands.
R.B. Pathak, who retired as a commandant from the CRPF, said: "We were told that if and when the OROP is announced, it will be for the CAPF also. Earlier this year, we agitated at Jantar Mantar also."
"Our service conditions are worse than those of the army. We have the right to be provided OROP and other facilities like army," Pathak said.