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How India’s paramilitary forces are weathering its winter of discontent

india Updated: Jan 13, 2017 16:41 IST
Rajesh Ahuja

In a Facebook video, BSF soldier Tej Bahadur Yadav alleged that troops were served bad-quality food.(Facebook screengrab)

Is this the winter of discontent for India’s paramilitary forces?

Even before the controversy over a Border Security Force (BSF) jawan’s selfie video on the quality of food at border posts could die down, a member of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) gunned down four colleagues over reasons still unknown.

Meanwhile, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been having problems of its own. While a jawan shot himself in Jammu and Kashmir recently, another posted a video alleging disparity in pay and allowances as compared to military personnel.

The Prime Minister’s Office has stepped in, asking the home ministry to submit a report on the action taken with regard to BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav’s food-related grievances. Yadav had also accused senior officers of illegally diverting the ration meant for jawans to the open market.

“How is this possible? How can an officer posted at a high-altitude post divert ration to the open market? Who is there to buy it?” asked a senior home ministry officer who is compiling the report.

The incident has rankled the NDA government, which prides itself on the welfare of security personnel, even though it has been recognised as a gross violation of norms. “The video may be a violation of service norms, but we will have to ascertain the validity of the jawan’s allegations,” the officer said, indicating that the government may not treat it as an indiscipline issue just yet.

As the jawan was posted at the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir, where the BSF is under the Army’s command, the defence ministry has also been looped in for the probe. The Army is checking whether there was any problem with the quality of ration at the border posts.

The BSF, in its interim report to the home ministry, said a senior officer of the force visited the post where Yadav was deployed just two days before he made the videos. Yadav did not complain about the food to his senior, it added.

On another video of a CRPF jawan complaining about the disparity between paramilitary and military personnel in terms of pay and allowances, home ministry sources said the 7th pay panel report has looked into some of the issues. The CRPF was also quick to issue a point-by-point rebuttal on the video, stating that the force has always worked towards ensuring the welfare of its jawans.

But the days of discontent may not be over yet. Now, a member of the Sashastra Seema Bal – another paramilitary force under the Union home ministry – has leveled allegations of ration diversion.