Terming the attempts by a few war veterans to burn their medals as an insult to the nation and the armed forces, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said that protesting ex-service personnel should prove there was no political motive behind the OROP (one rank, one pension) stir.
"If I say something, it will become an allegation. Let them prove that it is not political," he told reporters in Arakkonam near Chennai when asked if he saw a political link to continuing agitation despite the government's response and notification on one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme.
"Medals are a recognition by the nation of the sacrifices of by the armed forces," he said in reply to another query. "Burning and returning them is an insult to the nation and the defence forces."
The minister's comments come in the wake of a section of the ex-service personnel expressing dissatisfaction on the ground that the OROP notification has not fully met their demands.
The government had last Saturday formally notified the OROP scheme for over 24 lakh ex-servicemen and six lakh war widows in the country.
"Medals are a recognition of bravery, for the service to the nation. It has nothing to do with service conditions whereas OROP is about service conditions. It does not say you are entitled for medals, it talks about service conditions like your pay and entitlement," Parrikar said.
On the issue of grievances of protesting ex-servicemen, he said, "Let them put the demands before the judicial committee, they will address it." He said implementing OROP was BJP's electoral promise and it had been fulfilled.
Earlier, he unveiled the first phase of the commissioning of Boeing P8i Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft fleet at Naval Air Station "INS Rajali" at Arrakkonam, about 85 km from Chennai.
In the next phase, four more such aircraft would be inducted making it a fleet of 12 high-tech surveillance planes. Induction of the eighth P8i plane and completion of aircraft equipment testing, trials and crew training for all the eight aircraft marked the launch of the first phase.
The function was attended by the top defence brass, including Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan, Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command and other senior officials from the navy as well as civil administration.