The Weekend Leader - Government announces OROP, veterans not satisfied

Real-life Phantom kills 10 terrorists in 11 days, dies fighting



Standing out for his toughness in an elite unit, an Indian army commando proved his mettle with three consecutive, anti-terrorist missions in the Kashmir Valley in which he gunned down 10 militants and captured one before laying down his life - but not before ensuring the operation was a success, a defence official said on Saturday.

Life may be imitating art here. In his latest movie, Phantom, Saif Ali Khan goes and kills several militants before laying down his life. The movie was banned in Pakistan.

"Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami, a Special Forces commando of the Indian Army has created a unique history of valour and dedication to duty by eliminating 10 terrorists in 11 days before laying down his life in service of the nation in the Kashmir Valley," army's Udhampur-based Northern Command spokesman, Col.S.D. Goswami told IANS.

Lance Naik Goswami, who was killed in a gunfight with militants in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district on Thursday, "volunteered to join the elite para commando outfit in 2002 and went on to gain the reputation of being one of the toughest soldiers of his unit - no small feat in an outfit that boasts of being one among the best in the world", said the spokesman.

The commando volunteered for all operational missions undertaken by his unit and was a part of numerous successful counter-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir, he added.

"In the last 11 days, he was actively involved in three counter-terrorism operations in the Kashmir Valley in which 10 terrorists were eliminated and one captured alive."

"The first operation was conducted in Khurmur, Handwara, on August 23. The operation resulted in elimination of three hardcore Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists of Pakistani origin," he added.

"He volunteered for a second back-to-back operation in Rafiabad, Kashmir. The operation was conducted over two days on August 26-27. It witnessed a fierce gunfight that led to the elimination of three more LeT terrorists."

"LeT terrorist, Sajjad Ahmad alias Abu Ubed Ullah, resident of Muzzafargarh, Pakistan was captured alive in this operation," said Col. Goswami, adding this further helped to "prove Pakistan's complicity in abetting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir".

"Lance Naik Goswami, once again, volunteered to be part of an ongoing operation launched in the dense Hafruda forest near Kupwara on September 3," he said.

"This proved to be his last operation but not before elimination of four terrorists in a heavy gunbattle. A true soldier, he breathed his last in action."

The mortal remains of the braveheart commando, who hailed from Indira Nagar village in Nainital district of uttarakhand, were flown by an Indian Air Force aircraft to Bareilly from where his body will be taken by an army helicopter to Pantnagar and onward to his native place where he will be cremated with full military honours.

Goswami is survived by his wife and a 7-year-old daughter. - IANSPutting an end to months of speculation, the government on Saturday announced it will be implementing 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) for the armed forces, even as the veterans said they were not fully satisfied with the scheme.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar made the announcement at a press conference flanked by Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, Army chief General Dalbir Singh, Navy chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan and Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar.

Parrikar said an order implementing the scheme was likely to come in a fortnight to a month.

The minister squarely blamed the previous Congress-led government for miscalculations on OROP, and said it led to the delay in its implementation.

He also quoted a reply by a former minister of state for defence in parliament in 2009, who had said "there are administrative, technical and financial difficulties in implementing OROP".

"It is for these reasons that the present government took some time to fulfill its promise," he said.

The estimated cost to the exchequer for the scheme will be Rs.8,000-10,000 crore, and the arrears will amount to around Rs.12,000 crore.

The scheme announced by the government will take 2013 as the base year to calculate pensions.

"Pensions will be re-fixed for all pensioners retiring in the same rank and with same length of service as the average of minimum and maximum pension in 2013," Parrikar said.

Those drawing pension above the average will be protected.

Parrikar said the government came to power on May 26, 2014 and the budget came in June, so the date of implementation will be immediately after that, which was July 1, 2014.

The period for review is five years, something that has been a major sticking point.

Another major issue is that the government's scheme is not for those who seek voluntary retirement, even though Parrikar said that those who are forced to take retirement due to injuries obtained during service will be protected.

The arrears are to be paid in four installments, at a gap of every six months.

To war widows, the arrears will be given in one instalment.

Rao Inderjit said veterans above 60 years of age will also get arrears in one go.

Announcing the scheme, Parrikar said the government was dedicated to the scheme which has been pending for "40 years".

"The issue of OROP has been pending for nearly four decades. It is a matter of deep anguish that various governments remained ambivalent on the issue of OROP," said Parrikar.

Protesting ex-servicemen on Saturday said they were not "fully satisfied" with the OROP scheme announced by the government as all of their demands were not met.

"Though we welcome the implementation of the OROP by the government, we are not fully satisfied as they have not accepted the six points demanded by the ex-servicemen," Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh (retd), who has been spearheading the campaign for OROP, told the media at Jantar Mantar shortly after Parrikar's announcement.

He said a decision on the future course of their agitation would be taken later in the evening.

In the government press conference, Parrikar blamed the previous Congress-led government, saying they promised implementation of OROP in 2014-15, but "did not specify what OROP would be, how it will be implemented or how much it will cost".

"An estimated Rs.500 crore provided for OROP in the budget presented in February 2014 by the then government was not based on any calculation," he said.

"The reality, however, is that to implement OROP the estimated cost to the exchequer would be Rs.8,000 to Rs.10,000 crore at present, and will increase further in future," he said. - IANS

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