The family of the BSF jawan, who alleged that troops were served bad-quality food and ration meant for them was often sold off, on Wednesday rubbished Border Security Force’s claims that the soldier had issues with intoxication and discipline.
BSF inspector general DK Upadhyaya’s comments came after Tej Bahadur Yadav-- a part of BSF’s 29th battalion along the India-Pakistan border -- posted four videos of poor food arrangements in a Jammu and Kashmir camp on social media that went viral and sparked widespread outrage.
Yadav family said the BSF is trying to malign his image for exposing corruption.
“It is sad that they have resorted to questioning his credibility. But everyone knows this is their cover up for his expose,” Hanuman, Yadav’s elder brother, told Hindustan Times by phone from RataKalan in Mahendragarh.
“Ours is a family of soldiers. Tej Bahadur is the youngest of five brothers. One of our elder brothers is also serving in the BSF, while a nephew is in the army. Our grandfather was a freedom fighter in Netaji’s force. If he has raised some issue, it is only because he wants our system to improve,” Hanuman added.
The family said they don’t want to share the names of Yadav’s brother and nephew, “fearing the forces may indict them as well for some reason or the other.”
Yadav’s parents, however, say they are not aware of such allegations. They only know that their son was ‘extremely upset’ with the food he would get and was seeking voluntary retirement because senior officials would not just listen.
“If he raised any issue, his seniors would foil back with allegations on him. He had come home on leave in December. He would say ‘pashuon wala khana milta hai’ (we get animal’s food),” his father Sher Singh said.
His wife Sharmila, who works in a private company and lives in Rewari, said the issues raised by him were true.
“What my husband did is right and for the welfare of the soldiers. It is not wrong to demand food. He has only shown the truth, but these people are saying his mental health is not well. If he was mentally unstable, why was he sent to the border?” news agency ANI quoted her as saying.
She was able to contact him for only “two minutes.” “He said his phone has been taken away. He told he is OK and asked us not to worry, but it was clear from his voice things were not okay with him,” she said.
“The BSF is talking about my husband’s poor records in the past. But it was only because he raised his voice,” she said.
She also urged the government to investigate the matter and ensure justice to her husband and family, even as the Union home ministry asked the BSF to submit a report by Wednesday.
Sharmila said they wanted their son, an aspiring engineer, to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the force.
“Neither we nor he wants to join the force now,” she said.
BSF IG Upadhyaya, in a press conference on Tuesday, said Yadav was court-martialled in 2010 for indiscipline and aimed a gun at a senior officer, even as he assured of a thorough probe into his allegations.
He said the soldier was allowed to stay in the force on humanitarian grounds.
“A high-level enquiry is underway as the BSF has taken the allegations levelled by the constable very seriously.
“However, prima facie it was found that no other jawan deployed at the same place had any problem with the quality of food being served to them,” Upadhyaya told reporters.
Officials said the BSF headquarters already submitted a preliminary report in the case to the home ministry and a full report was being prepared by a deputy inspector general (DIG)-rank officer who is based in Jammu and Kashmir.
In videos uploaded on social media platforms, the soldier, wearing camouflage uniform and carrying a rifle, claimed that while government procures essentials for them, the higher-ups and officers “sell it off” in an “illegal” manner in the market and they have to suffer.
He also alleged that troops were facing “cruelty” as they are served “bad quality” food and even have to go “empty stomach” at times.
The soldier hails from Mahendragarh district of Haryana and had joined the force in 1996.
Yadav was deployed along the Line of Control in the Rajouri sector of J-K and has now been shifted to a nearby battalion pending the Court of Inquiry (CoI).
(With agency inputs)