Lack of ‘jeera’ (cumin) or onions in ‘tadka’ or tempering for dal prompted Border Security Force (BSF) jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav to post videos of the meal, preliminary findings of the BSF court of inquiry say.
Yadav’s Facebook videos from a border base in Jammu and Kashmir triggered a countrywide debate on the living conditions of those securing our borders. Yadav, who was subsequently brought to his battalion’s headquarters in Rajouri, had alleged that the poor quality food, including watery dal without ‘tadka’ and burnt chapatis, was a result of pilferage of supplies by senior officers. The outrage generated by the viral video ensured it was probed by a court of inquiry headed by a deputy inspector general (DIG) of the paramilitary.
The inquiry looked into the supply of items such as cumin, garlic, ginger and onion, which are required for ‘tadka’.
Sources said that cumin was not available for two to three days at the base but by the time Yadav put out his selfie videos, the vital ‘tadka’ ingredient had reached the base. High-altitude posts are supplied with dehydrated onions but even these were not available at Yadav’s position then. Garlic and ginger are not supplied to the base at all.
“Apart from dal, there were other food items on the menu but Yadav didn’t complain about them,” said an official source privy to the preliminary findings. BSF spokesperson Shubhendu Bhardwaj said that the inquiry report is expected in the next few days. “The inquiry is always instituted to look into an incident. It is not against an individual. In this case, Yadav alleged non-availability of tadka dal and so it was necessary to look into it,” he said.
Yadav had used his son’s Facebook account to circulate the videos on January 7-8. The court of inquiry, said sources, checked the menu on those days. It was found that jawans were served chapati, cooked vegetables, pickle and coffee for breakfast. For lunch, they got rice, chapati, fruits and moong dal, and for dinner they were served fish, moong dal, chapatti, rice and vegetables.
“The menu keeps changing. On some days, jawans get parantha for breakfast and rajma-rice for lunch. In fact, other food items available to jawans are visible in the selfie video posted by Yadav,” said a source. Yadav had applied for voluntary retirement from the force, which had been accepted a few days before he posted the videos. He was to serve with the force till January 31 this year but due to the court of inquiry, his request for voluntary retirement has been denied for now.
Sources familiar with the findings of the court of inquiry said Yadav’s allegations of pilferage are not supported by other jawans posted at the same base. The inquiry report would also establish whether Yadav breached discipline and violated the Official Secrets Act by revealing the base structure in his videos.