Modi regime ‘systematically’ discriminating against armed forces: Congress

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IANS) The Congress on Thursday accused the Narendra Modi government of systematically discriminating against the armed forces, raising the purported change of armed forces officers’ rank parity with respect to their civilian counterparts.

“The Narendra Modi government has systematically discriminated against the armed forces,” said Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala.

The Defence Ministry had on October 18 issued a circular on rank equivalence between defence officers and civil service officers, which lowered the parity of the former.

As the issue created a row, the ministry clarified on Thursday that there has been no change in the rank structure or the status of Armed Forces personnel with respect to their civilian counterparts and termed media reports in this regard as “erroneous”. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had on Tuesday assured that the ministry would check if ranks of armed forces personnel have changed vis-a-vis their civilian counterparts, and any discrepancies would be rectified in a week.

However, Surjewala attacked Parrikar, charging him with “lying”.

“The Defence Minister is lying once again. How can he say that he does not know of this downgrade in ranks when the last line of the order says it has been done with the permission of the Defence Minister,” he asked, also adding that “within hours of the cross-border surgical strikes, the government proceeded to reduce the soldiers’ disability pension”.

“OROP (One Rank, One Pension) has been made to mean one rank many pensions. There are many anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission which are not being addressed despite repeated requests from the retired officers.

“The soldiers feel cheated,” Surjewala said.