In the morning, home minister Sushil Shinde held out hope of "ex-servicemen" status for the country's three lakh-odd retired paramilitary personnel but by evening it had been dashed, leaving the veteran troopers livid.
Instead of parity with retired armed forces personnel as demanded, all they had received was an "ex-CAPF (central armed police forces) personnel" tag with little commitment on post-retirement benefits or job and education quotas for their children.
The cabinet committee on security, which took the decision, was told "there is no commitment on giving quotas, etc, by the central government and there are no financial implications for the Centre," agovernment source said.
Instead, the Centre will "request" the states to reserve seats and jobs for the wards of "ex-CAPF personnel".
A retired Border Security Force officer said it wouldn't help because states that lack international borders don't care for retired paramilitary personnel.
"I applied in 2008 to a state government (in south India) for land in accordance with a government circular to grant plots at concessions to gallantry awardees. I have not even received a reply," he said.
Over 10,000 retired personnel will gherao the Central Government Offices (CGO) complex off Lodhi Road on November 21 in protest, said All India Central Paramilitary Forces Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association general secretary P.S. Nair. "We are not satisfied," he said.
Shinde had told a Central Reserve Police Force event in the morning that he was hopeful of "ex-servicemen" status being granted. The large audience of former and serving paramilitary troopers, who had come with their families, broke into applause.
By afternoon, the harsh reality had become clear. Sources said the defence ministry had fought the proposal tooth and nail, refusing to widen the pool of claimants for ex-servicemen benefits.
"Ex-serviceman" denotes anyone who has served in any rank in the army, navy or air force and is earning pension. Ex-servicemen receive benefits in re-employment in the government's A, B, C and D category jobs.
A tenth of assistant commandant vacancies in all the paramilitary forces are reserved for ex-servicemen. They receive medical benefits and a liquor quota at military canteen stores.
The government said a welfare and rehabilitation board would facilitate bank loans and arrange job counselling for the "ex-CAPF" or family members of the dead, but the retired BSF officer was sceptical.
He cited how police canteen stores had been set up in 2007 following demands "but we hardly get a two or three per cent relief in prices against the massive concessions given to ex-servicemen".
A retired Central Industrial Security Force additional director-general, Kashmir Singh, said the defence ministry jealously guards its turf by preventing parity to paramilitary forces.