Amid the accusations of manhandling the protesting ex-servicemen by Delhi police and NDMC, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Friday visited Jantar Mantar in the national capital to meet them.
Addressing the media at Jantar Mantar, Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should now finalise a date for the implementation of "One Rank One Pension" scheme, for which the ex-servicemen have been on a hunger strike for over two months.
These people shouldnt be removed, they're protesting for their right: Rahul Gandhi on ex servicemen protest over OROP pic.twitter.com/qBYUl1aagA
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 14, 2015
"PM should give a date as to when he can bring in OROP, all this protest will end then... People from armed forces & jawans spend their lives on the border, they are protesting now & they shouldnt be removed," ANI quoted Rahul as saying.
"Jo technicalities ki baat hai wo PM ko kehne se pehle sochni chahiye thi, ab humein date chaahiye, in logon ko date chaahiye," he added.
Earlier in the day, the retired servicemen accused the Delhi police and NDMC of manhandling them when they resisted eviction from the protest site.
"I was pushed by the cops who even tore my shirt," PTI quoted 82-year-old Vishambhar as saying.
Some veterans alleged that the cops were "barbaric" and "undemocratic" and termed the day as "Black Independence Day".
The incident was condemned by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who urged Modi to accept the demand for the implementation of OROP.
Ex-servicemen being forcibly thrown out of jantar mantar? Bizarre.They protected us till yest. Now they r security threat for indep day?
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) August 14, 2015
I wud urge Hon'ble PM to announce acceptance of the demand of OROP of our ex servicemen from Red Fort tomo — Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) August 14, 2015
The police and NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) cited security concerns ahead of the Independence Day celebrations on Saturday to justify their action.
"As Delhi is on a high alert ahead of Independence Day so we are removing the protesters to ensure security," a senior officer said.
The protesting ex-servicemen were angry at the high-handedness of the police and NDMC and said they should have been given prior information about the security arrangements instead of being forced out.
Veterans say they got no notice to leave from Jantar Mantar. Say they will not vacate spot pic.twitter.com/vmK7cGh7dR
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 14, 2015
VK Gandhi, a retired group captain, described slammed the Delhi police and NDMC, saying their action will not break their will to continue their protest.
"The way police have acted against us just a day before Independence day is unjustified.If there was a security concern they should have discussed with us before... Now we will continue are protests from Jantar Mantar and if they arrest us, we will continue it in jail. It is a black Independence day as they have tried to curb our independence."
Chairman of Indian Ex-servicemen Movement Major General (Retd) Satbir Singh, was equally scathing in his attack on the Delhi police and NDMC.
"This is shocking and obnoxious. Nothing can be worse. We are the protectors of India's Independence. We are requesting the Police Commissioner to restore our tents since we had permission. The move to remove our tents is barbaric, undemocratic and dictatorial as it comes on the eve of Independence Day."