Thursday, October 30, 2008

In protest against ‘step-motherly’ treatment by govts, ex-servicemen observe Black Diwali

e ex-servicemen from Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula observed a “Black Diwali” on Tuesday to protest against the alleged “step-motherly” treatment meted out to their demands by the successive governments at the Centre.

These ex-servicemen from the tricity, had earlier, observed a chain hunger strike under the banner of “Punjab chapter of the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement (IESM)” in Mohali between October 20 and 25.

IESM coordinator Lt Col (Retd) Sadhu Singh Sohi said, as part of the protest, the ex-servicemen observed Diwali as a “black day” without lighting any candles or fireworks.

Sohi rued that the government has de-linked ex-servicemen pensions’ increase in the Sixth Pay Commission while keeping them at the old scale of the Fifth Pay Commission.

“The last three Pay Commissions have been unfair to us and have neglected our interests. With every war victory, we have been harmed and downgraded because none of our representatives was included in the Central Commissions.”

The IESM coordinator said the soldiers were still deemed as unskilled workers and a Naib Subedar, who is a Class II officer, receives lesser pension than a civil peon.

Demanding a separate Pay Commission for the Defence Forces, ex-servicemen and their widows, Sohi said that a national level delegation of the IESM had recently gone to meet the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of their decision and give the UPA-led government a last chance to fulfill their genuine demands.

As she was not available for the meeting, the agitators were forced to resort to the nationwide stir,  added Sodhi.

Source : Indian Express.

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