Kejriwal, Rahul detained as veteran’s suicide triggers row

Political slugfest over OROP

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi with party leaders Raj Babbar, Deepender Singh Hooda and Jyotiraditya Scindia being taken in a police bus from
Parliament Street Police Station in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)

New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, police detained Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday after a veteran committed suicide over the OROP scheme. Gandhi, detained twice during the day, Sisodia and finally Kejriwal were let off at night.
Kejriwal and Gandhi were detained amid noisy demonstrations in the heart of the capital after they tried to meet the grieving family of Ram Kishan Grewal, who ended his life on Tuesday evening here.
Sisodia was detained in the morning after he met the dead man’s son at a hospital. “I went to meet the family, not to stage a dharna. What’s wrong with that? What kind of system is this, Modiji,” Sisodia asked, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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, Jaswant said he had never witnessed such police conduct vis-a-vis veterans’ families.
After nine hours of unexplained detention, Sisodia walked out of the Parliament Street police station at night and drove to the R.K. Puram police station where Kejriwal was detained along with fellow minister Gopal Rai.
As the tug of war played out, the BJP accused Gandhi and Kejriwal of politicizing the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.
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.
Grewal, 70, formerly of Rajputana Rifles, allegedly took poison at a park and died demanding the immediate implementation of the scheme.
Before dying, he telephoned his son Jaswant and told him that he was committing suicide as a “sacrifice” for the nation, his family told the media.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said he was “saddened by the death”.
But Parrikar’s colleague V.K. Singh, himself an ex-army chief, triggered a row by questioning the “mental state” of the dead soldier.
“He has committed suicide. No one knows the reason behind it. OROP is being shown as the reason. What his mental state was, we do not know. Let it be probed first. OROP should be above politics,” the MoS for External Affairs was quoted as saying by news channels. (IANS)