Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apologise to the former soldier’s family who allegedly committed suicide over One Rank One Pension (OROP).
Rahul Gandhi, who along with top Congress leaders was detained twice as a high-voltage political drama unfolded following the death of Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal demanded an apology for the treatment meted out to former soldier’s family.
"The least this government can do is to apologise to the family of the deceased soldier for making them suffer," said an angry Gandhi after being finally released at night amid strong protests by party leaders.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia were also detained by the Delhi Police while trying to meet the family of ex-serviceman.
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi was briefly detained after being stopped from entering the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital premises where he had gone to meet the relatives of Ram Kishan Grewal.
An angry Rahul vented his ire on the security personnel by wondering what was happening in the country.
“What kind of country is this? What kind of country you are trying to make?” asked a visibly upset Gandhi when he was stopped at the gate of the hospital.
Rahul Gandhi was detained at Mandir Marg Police Station and was released after 70 minutes.
In a scathing attack on the Modi government, Rahul said the Delhi police's action was symbolic of "undemocratic" mentality of the NDA dispensation, while Kejriwal called the situation worse than Emergency and accused the Prime Minister of being guilty of "deceit" and indulging in "lies" over the One Rank-One Pension(OROP) issue.
Twelve family members of the deceased, including his son Jaswant, were detained and some of them alleged that they were thrashed and abused by police when they came out of RML hospital to meet Rahul.
At a joint press conference at the AICC headquarters, former Defence Minister A K Antony warned that "things will be difficult" if the government did not implement the OROP in toto immediately and remove the pay commission anomalies.
Holding the Modi government responsible for the suicide of Ram Kishan Grewal, 70, a resident of Bhiwani district in Haryana, Antony and party chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala demanded that Prime Minister apologise to the nation and the armed forces for "misleading them" that OROP has been implemented.
"The present government is responsible for this suicide. Modi government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister, is talking for last one year that they have implemented OROP fully, but have not yet done so. They have diluted the OROP as implemented by UPA,” Antony said
"Government must implement OROP in toto at the earliest and remove all pay commission anomalies otherwise things will be difficult," he said, adding had everything been implemented fully this tragedy would not have happened.
He added, "If is government has any kind of loyalty left for armed forces, my humble request to Prime Minister is please apologise to the nation and the families of soldiers for misleading them that OROP has been implemented. Such action has been unheart of in the history of India."
Rahul Gandhi also demanded an apology from the government.
The family has made a sacrifice and what has happened to them (their detention) is wrong, he added.
The Congress immediately latched on to the issue after reports of the suicide came in the morning with party leaders taking to the streets. Rahul Gandhi went to RML Hospital to meet the bereaved family and express his condolences, but was taken into custody and kept at Mandir Marg police station. He was again detained at the Tilak Marg police station and released late at night.
Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia also met similar fate.
Striking a defiant note, Congress declared that Rahul Gandhi will agitate for the cause of soldiers no matter how many times he has to go to jail.
"Rahul Gandhi is unfazed and no matter how many times he has to go to jail, he will continue to agitate for the cause of soldiers," said Surjewala.
The Congress and AAP leaders also accused the Modi government of being responsible for the death of Grewal, a resident of Haryana's Bhiwani district who consumed poison on the lawns of a government building in Janpath.
The Congress alleged that the Delhi police unleashed "naked hooliganism" on the opposition leaders. Several Congress leaders including Randeep Surjewala, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kumari Selja were detained while police was seen dragging scores of AAP workers and many office bearers outside the Parliament Street Police station.
The Congress and AAP leaders called the police action an "assault on democracy and fundamental rights" while calling the treatment meted out to the grieving family as "utterly shameful" and "unprecedented. The BJP on its part accused the Congress and AAP of playing politics over the suicide.
Rahul Gandhi later tweeted, "A tough day for the Army veteran’s family, yet they have been made to suffer. Government should at least apologize to the family." The Congress vice president said that he just went to the hospital to share their grief and tell them that he was with them.
"I went alone. When I reached there, all gates were shut. When I told the police that the family wants to meet me and allow them to come out. I saw the family was made to shift somewhere and detained later.
"Unfortunately, the family whose most difficult day it was, goverment detained them all day. They were detained and so was I. I told the police as to what mistake they had committed. The family has made a sacrifice and what has happened with them is wrong," Gandhi said.
Antony said Congress is not politicising the OROP issue and it was BJP instead which did so before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. "Government said they would remove anomalies in OROP and they even set up a Commission. But, the report is yet to be tabled," he said.
"Modi Government has been telling for past one year that they have implemented OROP. In reality, most of the ex-servicemen are still awaiting OROP," Antony, a former Defence Minister said.
Surjewala said BJP always praised the heroism of the brave soldiers and it was a matter of shame for the country that they had to struggle for getting the OROP.
He also targeted Union Minister V K Singh for talking about the "mental state" of the deceased soldier, saying he insulted the armed forces. Congress held two press conferences during the day as protests raged on in Lutyens' Delhi.