Ex-serviceman Ram Kishan Grewal, who allegedly committed suicide over One Rank One Pension (OROP), was one of the recipients of benefits under the revised pension scheme, Defence Ministry sources said on Wednesday as his death sent political temperature soaring in the national capital.
However, Ministry sources said Grewal had received a lesser amount as part of the One Rank-One Pension scheme under the 6th pay commission due to an error in calculation by the SBI bank branch in Bhiwani district of Haryana, a matter which was being looked into.
Grewal was reportedly drawing Rs 23,000 as pension as against Rs 28,000 he would be entitled to under one-rank, one-pension scheme.
He had come to Delhi with three other former soldiers to approach Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over the OROP pension for retired soldiers.
Defence Ministry sources have said that the deceased former soldier had not sought an appointment with the Defence Minister either at his office or home.
Government sources said redressing grievances of former soldiers over anomalies in OROP was a priority and that Grewal’s suicide needed serious investigation.
The sources said Parrikar was personally looking into solutions to the complications.
They said Grewal served the Territorial Army for 6 years and 11 months after which he was in the Defence Security Corps.
"However, he was entitled to OROP. The delay in receiving the revised pension was due to problems in calculation at his bank?s end.
Like his other colleagues, he should have approached the ex-serviceman welfare cell," sources said.
They added that his case could have been resolved amicably like hundreds of others even if he had directly approached the ministry.
"His letter dated 31 Oct and his suicide on November 1 raises several questions. It also demands serious investigation about who was with the deceased when he took the extreme step, who provided the poison and if anybody may have taken advantage of his troubled mind to provoke him to take the extreme step," they said.
Ministry sources insisted that Parrikar had not received any request for appointment with the deceased nor did his letter say any such thing.
The sources said Defence Ministry and Parrikar himself have accorded highest priority to addressing complaints in implementation of the "historic" OROP benefit.
As a result, less than one lakh pensioners remain to receive payment out of the about 20.60 lakh pensioners. Even among the remaining cases, there is a speedy mechanism to sort out complications, they said. A majority of the cases are being sorted out by the Ex-Servicemen Welfare Cells functioning in each district.
"But the Raksha Mantri himself has solved not less than 500 cases of complaints which were sent to him directly through email or other means. These include cases of veterans of 1950-60s also. Parrikar continues to receive a least 10-15 emails which are forwarded to the right agency as soon as possible," sources said.
Meanwhile, Parrikar today asserted the government was committed to the welfare of ex-servicemen and said a total of Rs 5,507.47 crore has been disbursed under the scheme.
Giving details of the OROP implementation so far, Parrikar said there were 20,63,763 beneficiaries before July 2014. He said 19,12,520 pensioners have been paid the first instalment and 1,50,313 cases are pending verification and authentication of beneficiaries.
Tweeting the details of the OROP, Parrikar said Rs 3886.88 crore had been disbursed as the first instalment. He said 11,33,100 people have received the second instalment of Rs 1,604.59 crore has been disbursed.
"Government is committed to ex-servicemen's welfare," he said. Meanwhile, the group of ex-servicemen, which has been leading the protest at Jantar Mantar over OROP, distanced itself from Grewal's suicide and said the issue should not be politicised.
They also said all politicians, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has tweeted on the issue, should stay away and the government should sort out the OROP "mess".
"The suicide did not take place at Jantar Mantar. His friends had informed the police about the suicide bid but it was too late. He was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital from where they wanted to bring the body to Jantar Mantar, which we refused," Col Anil Kaul (Retd), media advisor to United Front of Ex-Servicemen Movement (UFESM), told PTI. He said the group did not believe in violence.