Some defence forces veterans have complained of not receiving their pension for April and that the authorities have no answer for it. They have stated that their pension was not credited on April 29 or 30 and they are still awaiting it.
Lieutenant General DS Hooda (Retd) in a tweet said: "Veterans complaining of pension stopped without explanation. For most, this is the only source of income. Is this how the we say 'Thank you for your service to the nation'? Request @rajnathsingh to intervene."
Lt. Gen. Hooda then shared an update on the matter and said that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's intervention in the matter helped in its resolution.
"Grateful thanks for the speedy intervention by @rajnathsingh to resolve the issue of non-payment of pensions to veterans in April," Hooda wrote.
There is no word so far from Defence Ministry over the issue.
A technical glitch?
The problem started after the defence ministry introduced online system.
In keeping with the Digital India vision of the Government of India, the Ministry of Defence implemented System for Pensions Administration - Raksha (SPARSH) for pensioners of the Indian Armed Forces as well as Defence Civilians as an integrated system for automation of sanction and disbursement of defence pension. The armed forces and other organisations were onboarded to the platform in phases, beginning with the Indian Army from August 2021.
This web-based system processes pension claims and credits pension directly into the bank accounts of defence pensioners without relying on any external intermediary.
The Defence Accounts Department has been the nodal implementing agency for Project SPARSH, which is envisaged on a 'whole of the government' approach and carefully integrates over 3,000 pension initiating, sanctioning and disbursement agencies and brings pensions services right at the door step of the veterans - from digital process of pensioner verification to real time tracking of grievance redressal.
Congress reacts sharply
Responding to the pension row, many Congress leaders reacted sharply, criticising the government.
Taking to Twitter, Rahul Gandhi said in Hindi: "After the deception of 'One Rank, One Pension', now the Modi government is adopting the policy of 'All Rank, No Pension'."
Randeep Surjewala, Congress General Secretary replied ,"This is not the first assault on interests of Armed Forces, nor is it the last.- Denial of OROP, including opposing it in Supreme Court. Taxing the Disability Pension. Cutting ECHS Budget. Denial of Non Functional Upgrade. Denying Short Service Commission Officers treatment in Military Hospitals."
Urging the Army veterans to take up the cause, he said: "I urge decorated champions like you, @Vedmalik1, @rwac48 & other leading veterans to take up the cause of our Ex-Servicemen in a bi-partisan fashion and ensure justice is done."
He added: "Injustice in 7th Pay Commission- Denial of Pay Level & Risk Allowance akin to Civilians. Denying allocation of Petrol Pumps/Gas Agencies/Coal India Contracts for rehabilitation of Ex Servicemen. Curbs on Purchase of Items in CSD Canteens & imposing GST".
"Ex Servicemen & Armed Forces betrayed by our own Govt, which opposed right of persons holding the same rank, with the same length of service to get same pension, irrespective of the date of retirement," the party had said.
(With inputs from IANS)