New Delhi, Oct 30 (IANS) Ex-servicemen who were protesting at Jantar Mantar since 2015 were on Monday evicted from the spot, police said, while the veterans complained that many of them were manhandled and some also injured.
The action came as police and Municipal Corporation officials evicted a number of protesters from the site after a National Green Tribunal order of October 5 banning protests at Jantar Mantar.
Delhi Police said around 150 people from 32 groups of protesters were evicted from the site to implement the green tribunal’s order, and two companies of police have been deployed at Jantar Mantar to stop protesters from gathering there again.
A group of ex-servicemen have kept on their protest at the site since June 15, 2015 for One Rank One Pension (OROP) even after the government implemented the scheme, stating that the one given by Defence Ministry is flawed and not the OROP that was promised.
Maj Gen Satbir Singh (retd), the advisor to the United Front of Ex-Servicemen and Chairman, Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said veterans were forcefully removed and three people, including a woman received injuries in the process.
“We were brutally removed from the site early morning around 7.30 a.m. Police had come with officials of the municipal corporation. They manhandled us and took away our equipment, even though we said we would leave by evening if another place is provided,” Satbir Singh told IANS.A
He added that they were taken to a police station following the eviction and kept there till 4 p.m.
Accusing the government was suppressing their voice, he said that they had not been given appropriate options to continue protest at another site.
“Where is the alternate site for protest? Ramlila ground, they charge Rs 50,000 for a day, and the place does not even have toilets. How are we supposed to protest there,” Satbir Singh asked.
“If the Prime Minister thinks he can suppress our voices, I would appeal to the nation to question why the government is acting in this manner. We protect the borders so that people can sleep in peace. Here ex-soldiers are being manhandled,” he added.
“This is murder of democracy, government wants to suppress our voices. It is the second time they have used force on us. Ex-soldiers being treated like criminals by the police,” he said.
Attempts were earlier made to forcefully evict the retired soldiers from their protest site at Jantar Mantar on August 14, 2015, ahead of Independence Day. However, following criticism, authorities allowed the ex-servicemen to reclaim the site within hours.
Satbir Singh also pointed out that the NGT had given a deadline till November 3 and questioned the evacuation.
The NGT on October 5 had ordered a stop to all protests, public gatherings and use of loudspeakers at Delhi’s designated protest site Jantar Mantar, and asked authorities to remove all makeshift or permanent structures from the area.
The green panel directed all protests should now be held at Ram Leela Maidan in Ajmeri Gate.
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