Demanding restoration of the Old Pension Scheme, thousands of central and state government employees across the country gathered at Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on Sunday. According to National Movement For Old Pension Scheme (NMOPS) leader Vijay Kumar Bandhu, the protest took place as "our team believed that if the central government ratifies this (OPS), then the onus won’t be on the state government."
It has been reported that the the protesters at the Pension Shankhnaad Maharally voiced their opposition to the New Pension Scheme, saying they are worried about their post-retirement future.
"We are holding a maha rally to demand the restoration of the Old Pension Scheme under the banner of the Joint Forum for Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (JFROPS) and National Joint Council of Action (NJCA)," a protester said.
"The employees who joined government service after January 1, 2004 are strongly opposing the New Pension Scheme. The employees are worried about their future after retirement because they have been deprived of the Old Pension Scheme and forced into the New Pension Scheme," said Shiv Gopal Mishra, National Convener and General Secretary of All India Railway Men's Federation.
In a statement, the NMOPS said if the central government does not restore the Old Pension Scheme (OPS), they will organise a campaign titled "Vote for OPS" to demand its restoration ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha election.
Opposition parties backed the protesters
The protesters were backed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who said that the city government had already written to the central government to implement the Old Pension Scheme for government employees in the national capital.
Besides Kejriwal, several other Opposition leaders including Congress leader and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, Bahujan Samaj Party MP Shyam Singh Yadav also joined the protest.
The Congress party also endorsed the protesters and said, "Old pension is the right of the employees."
The party demanded the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restore the Old Pension Scheme to "honor the workers who serve the country".