OROP suicide: Rahul Gandhi reaches ex-soldier’s village for cremation
Bhiwani (Haryana), Nov 3 (IANS) Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has arrived in the ex-soldier Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal’s native Bamla village to attend the cremation to be held later on Thursday.
The former soldier’s body was brought to his village in Haryana’s Bhiwani district on Thursday morning after it was handed over to his family members in New Delhi.
With the veteran’s body now in Bhiwani, the political drama by leaders of various parties, who had made a beeline for the Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi on Wednesday, was expected to shift here.
Gandhi was among the first political leaders to reach. He met Grewal’s widow, sons and other family members.
He was accompanied by senior Congress leaders Kamal Nath, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Kiran Chaudhary, Kuldeep Bishnoi, Selja and others.
There was complete chaos at the Grewal residence as many leaders converged there along with hundreds of people from in and around the village.
Members of Grewal’s grieving family, neighbours, friends and associates along with fellow villagers had already gathered preparing for the cremation later.
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal also tweeted his decision to reach here.
Congress MP Deepinder Hooda had already reached and shared condolences with the Grewals earlier.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Derek O’ Brien also arrived in Bamla to meet the family.
“I have come here on the directions of our leader Mamta Banerjee to be with the (Grewal) family,” Brien told media here.
Grewal, 70, formerly of Rajputana Rifles, allegedly consumed poison at a park in New Delhi on Tuesday evening and died demanding the immediate implementation of the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme.
Before dying, he had telephoned his son, Jaswant and told him that he was committing suicide as a “sacrifice” for the nation, his family told the media. Grewal is survived by his wife and five sons.
Grewal was a prominent person in his village and had even held the position of sarpanch (village headman) for five years. He was associated with a number of development projects in and around Bamla.
Shattered by his suicide, Grewal’s family has demanded a probe into his death. They also rued the politics being played over his death.
Grewal’s son, Kulwant said that the politicising of his father’s death should end.
“I don’t understand why they are playing politics over our father’s death. He was deeply committed to all causes which he was associated with.
“He should be declared a martyr as he gave his life for the OROP cause,” Kulwant said on Wednesday, demanding “full military honours at his cremation”.
He said that his family members were illegally detained by the Delhi Police, beaten up and harassed following the suicide on Tuesday.
The police had detained Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday when they tried to meet the grieving family at a Delhi hospital.
Gandhi, detained twice during the day, was let off late evening, while Kejriwal was released around midnight on Wednesday.
Grewal’s son Jaswant said he, his younger brother and brother-in-law were beaten and taken to a police station when they tried to meet Gandhi. Demanding justice, he said he had never witnessed such police misconduct vis-a-vis veterans’ families.
As the tug of war played out, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused Gandhi and Kejriwal of politicising the OROP scheme announced last year.
Retired soldiers have been alleging that the government has not addressed their concerns fully about disparity in pension payments.
They resumed a relay hunger strike on Tuesday for rectification of anomalies in the OROP, which, among other measures, is meant to ensure equal pension to retired soldiers who served with the same rank and for the same duration, regardless of the year of retirement.