Armed forces veterans have called on the government to provide them with reservations in state legislatures, alleging that they have been feeling neglected despite shielding the country at the border.
"The army people have been defending the country not just after independence but before that too. But while they are in service, they don't get the chance to vote. I served the nation for 30 years but I didn't get a chance to vote," said ex-Major Dr. TC Rao, Convener of the Martyrs' Family Welfare Foundation, at a press conference at Press Club of India on Thursday.
Several retired veterans including Major General Ranjit Singh, Major General Ravindra Yadav, Colonel Ravi Tokas, Major SN Yadav and Chairman of MFWF Colonel Mahavir Singh were also present at the conference.
During the press meet, the retired soldiers alleged that they have been neglected by the different governments over the last 70 years.
Ex-Major Rao said: Now after retirement, we still want to do something for the nation but we are being ignored. When things like Pulwama attack or Balakot strike happen, political parties use them to get support and votes from the public. But when it comes to giving them representation, parties don't remember them."
"In US, 17 presidents have been from defence background so far and they have proved themselves to be the best presidents of the country. Out of 770 members of parliament till now, we only 5 members who are from defence background. In order to root out corruption, defence personnel will be the best candidates," he added.
Rao also emphasised that the cantonment areas of the countries should be represented by ex-servicemen.
He said: "There are 62 cantonments and these areas should be reserved from the ex-servicemen. Only Aam Aadmi Party gave ticket to an ex-servicemen Surinder Singh and he has been winning consistently. Neither BJP nor Congress considers ex-servicemen from Delhi Cantt."
The MFWF has also sent a memorandum in five points demand to the President, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the Chief Election Commissioner and the heads of all mainstream national and regional political parties.
While addressing the media General Ravindra Yadav raised the issue of non-payment dues of defence officers by National Highway Authority of India. He said, "The retired defence forces are running pillars to post to get their dues. They have operated toll plazas from 2003-2010. Thereafter, the scheme was closed because of the pressure from the civil contractors' lobby. The officers were asked to deposit bank guarantee ranging from 10-25 lacs, which the officers obtained after mortgaging their properties. Some of them rendered homeless as they couldn't repay the installments."
The delegations also warned that if demands are not met, then the state and national political parties may have to bear the brunt of the veterans in the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections.
The MFWF, in its joint statement, demanded the nomination of two ex-servicemen in the Cantonment Board and also submitted a draft to send two ex-servicemen to the Lok Sabha in place of Anglo Indian.
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