Rawat warns of crackdown, but another video surfaces

stern view: Army chief General Bipin Rawat paying homage at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate on the occasion of Army Day, in New Delhi on Sunday.  

Despite Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat sounding a warning to soldiers on Sunday against using social media to air their grievances instead of going through the regular channels, a third video surfaced late in the evening in which an unidentified jawan breaks into song to highlight the difficulties the troops face on the border.

“A few colleagues are using social media to draw the media's attention to their problems. It affects the morale of the jawans and thereby the army... You can be held guilty of a crime... and get punished,” Gen. Rawat warned while addressing the Army Day parade in Delhi Cantonment. His comments came after a second video of a jawan went viral, alleging discrimination by officers.

Unlike the earlier ones, the latest video is not self-made by a soldier expressing grievances but features a Sikh soldier singing in Punjabi to a group of colleagues. The soldier sings of the tough conditions they live in, probably at a border post, the “pickle on roti” they get to eat while people go to the Taj [hotel] in cities and of not being sanctioned leave for over 10 months.

“It has been 10 months now, I am not getting days off; all the tears have fallen from her eyes. One who is married to us, she feels neither married nor unmarried,” the song posted on Facebook says.

The jawan also sings that politicians don’t seem to care about youth in the military. “They go to sleep after wishing good night, we celebrate Diwali on borders...”

Ministry to address issue

In a related development, sources said the Defence Ministry had taken note of the incidents which they termed as “systemic issues”. Steps were being taken to address the issue as a whole. “There are thousands of units in place. It is difficult to monitor the issue at every level. Hence a mechanism needs to be put in place. The Ministry is working on it,” defence sources said.

Last week, Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh of 42 Infantry brigade expressed his grievances against the sahayak (orderly) system in the Army and spoke of soldiers being forced to “wash clothes, polish boots and walk dogs” for seniors. He said he was being victimised by his superiors for complaining against the practice.

In his first formal media address after taking over as Chief, Gen. Rawat last Friday strongly defended the sahayak system. He also announced that a “suggestion and grievance” system would be put in place through which soldiers could reach him directly without their identity being disclosed.

In his video, nursing assistant Naik Ram Bhagat speaks in support of BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, whose post on Facebook on January 9 complaining about the quality of food given to the troops went viral and forced the government to order a probe.

“The BSF jawan has spoken the absolute truth… I have an apprehension that the enquiry into his complaint will go against him … I do not wish that something wrong should happen with this fellow [Yadav],” Naik Bhagat said in his video, speaking in Hindi.

Talking of similar conditions in the Army, Naik Bhagat said the jawans only get a part of their entitled rations. “We are given only up to 40 per cent of the menu allotted to us. Don’t know where the rest of the rations goes. Not only I but every jawan of the Army wants to express these sentiments but does not know where to speak, no one knows,” he says.

Endorsing Lance Naik Singh’s statement on the treatment of jawans employed as orderlies under the sahayak system, Naik Bhagat said: “More than half of the Army is involved only in walking dogs, particularly those of the officers. Jawans going on leave are not given a vehicle to drop them off from the units. But a lieutenant, major or other senior officers are not only given a car to pick them up or drop them but also a buddy to carry their luggage. Why is this discrimination with jawans?”

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 2:36:53 AM |

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