India: Soldier refuses to take down Facebook video on 'shocking' duty conditions, BSF refutes allegations

Tej Bahadur, the Indian soldier, had uploaded four videos on YouTube alleging that they were served bad quality food in the army canteen. Photograph:( DNA )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 10, 2017, 08.36 AM (IST)

India's Border Security Force (BSF) said on Tuesday that it was probing the allegations made by a BSF jawan of its troops being treated with "cruelty." 

The BSF called the action an act of "indiscipline," and said an enquiry had been ordered into the incident and strict action would be taken if lapses were found. It also said that the soldier, Tej Badur Yadav of the 29 battalion Seema Suraksha Bal, was a frequent discipline breaker and was to be court-martialed in 2010 because of "an action of indiscipline."

Deputy Inspector General of the BSF, MDS Mann called the complainant a "bad hat", and said he was a regular offender who had not been promoted even once in his 20 years of service. He also said the standard of food, quality and quantity of all the posts will be checked within the next few days.

"He is a bad hat. In his service of twenty years, he has four bad entries, which includes intoxication, AWL, fighting with seniors, offending their orders. And, because of all these flaws, he has not been promoted even once, and this might be the cause of his frustration," said Mann. "We have initiated an inquiry in the matter and in the span of four to five days, the standard of food, quality and quantity of all the posts, will be checked. A report will be formed after a detailed inspection which will be forwarded. If any of his allegations are found true we will certainly initiate action against the defaulters."

"He indulged in action of indiscipline and he was to be court-martialed in 2010; considering his family he wasn't dismissed. It is a sensitive matter for us, we will probe the it and take actions accordingly. Can't comment on the allegations as yet, enquiry has been ordered. If any lapses found then strict action will be taken," said Inspector General, BSF, DK Upadhyay.

The senior officer of the BSF added that top officers of the BSF who have visited the camp in past have never received any complaint regarding allegations levelled in the video. "I can agree that taste of the food might not be very great but have never received any complaint from jawans regarding the same," he said.

He also said the quality of the food was same for the officers and jawans deployed on forward posts.

"The BSF itself purchases ration for its force deployed on the International Border, but for the deployment on the Line of Control, the ration is supplied by the army and nobody has ever complained about the quality of the food either on LoC or the IB," the IG said.

In a video posted on Facebook on Monday, the BSF jawan alleged that troops were being treated with "cruelty" because they were being served bad quality food and even slept on "empty stomach" at times.

The jawan has refused to remove the video from the social networking site.

"It took a lot of courage to post the video and when it will be examined, the truth will come out," Tej Badur Yadav told News18. "I was asked to take down the video but I refused," he said.

Minister of State (MoS) for Home Kiren Rijiju said the welfare of the security forces guarding the borders was "absolute priority" for the government. Rijiju, however, said that he found high level of satisfaction amongst the jawans during his regular visit to border posts.

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Federal home minister Rajnath Singh has sought a report from the home secretary and directed him to take appropriate action on the same.

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In videos uploaded on social media platforms, the jawan, wearing camouflage uniform and carrying a rifle, claimed that while the government procured essentials
for them, the higher-ups and officers "sell it off" in an "illegal" manner in the market, leaving them to suffer.
 

In the video, he says, "We only get a 'parantha' and tea as breakfast and this is without any pickle or vegetables... we slog for 11 hours and at times we have to stand throughout the duty hours. For lunch, we get 'dal' (pulses) which only has 'haldi' (turmeric) and salt... with roti. This is the quality of the food we get ... how can a jawan do his duty? I request the Prime Minister to get this probed. ... No one shows our plight," Yadav alleged, adding, "It is atyachaar (cruelty) and anyay (injustice) against us." He also said he "may not be here", hinting that action might be taken against him for shooting and uploading the video as he urged people to take the issue forward so that corrective action could be taken.

An official statement from the BSF rejected the soldier's claims, saying that even though conditions for soldiers were tough, they were provided with regular rations while asserting that the jawan, in particular, had a troubled past.

A senior BSF official said that Yadav was currently deployed along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir and the BSF jawans there worked under the operational command of the army which also provides for "food and other logistics of the jawans".

(WION with inputs from agencies)