Why did BSF jawan cross the ‘discipline lakshman rekha’? Only an inquiry can say
The Border Security Force finds itself embroiled in an unseemly controversy after a series of videos posted by one of its jawans went viral on social media. The jawan, Tej Bahadur Yadav made serious allegations: of them not getting enough food to eat, of them getting badly cooked meals and of how they, the jawans had to starve because the ‘corrupt officers’ siphoned off ration meant for them.
Social media erupted soon after the videos were posted and while the home minister Rajnath Singh promised a fair and impartial enquiry, the BSF itself attempted to shoot the messenger even before the enquiry process could begin.
In press conferences and through statements, the paramilitary force sought to character assassinate Yadav, who at best – or worst – can be held guilty of indiscipline because he went public with his grievances. While we are not sure if Yadav at all tried to address the grievances aired in the video with his company commander, former BSF chief, EN Ram Mohan told HT, “Instead of addressing the issues raised by the jawan, the BSF is trying to paint him into a bad hat by pointing to negative things. His complaints need to be properly enquired into. That’s what the force should be focusing on.”
The officers, instead, have sought to tarnish Yadav, saying he was court martialled in 2010 and put under rigorous imprisonment for over two months because he held a gun to an officers head. In a statement, the BSF said, “Constable Tej Bahadur as an individual has a difficult past. From initial days of his career, he needed regular counselling. Different correction mechanics have been applied for the individual’s welfare as he was habitual offender of absenteeism without permission, chronic alcoholism, misbehaving and using force with superior officers and certain other acts against good order and discipline. For such reasons, individual has served mostly in headquarters under supervision of some dedicated superior officer.”
While seeking to blame Yadav, the officers have not answered crucial questions that also reflect on the BSF’s leadership qualities: why was Yadav given a sensitive posting at the line of control? Why, at all, was a jawan who was a ‘habitual offender’ and a ‘chronic alcoholic’ posted to a high altitude forward location? If what the BSF statement says is correct, then Yadav clearly needed psychological counseling and not a stress posting that too along the border with Pakistan.
“The officers are to blame. I don’t think Yadav is at fault,’’ says Ram Mohan. Clearly, the officers who posted the jawan to the forward location need to be questioned by the inquiry committee especially since they have now revealed that Yadav had sought voluntary retirement and was to leave the force by January 31.
The All India Central Paramilitary Forces and Ex-servicemen Welfare Association which takes up cudgels on behalf of the paramilitary jawans has made the point that while the situation is not as bad as painted by Yadav, it was possible that personnel in-charge of the mess facilities could be indulging in irregularities in isolated cases.
Was Yadav’s an isolated case? Only an impartial inquiry can settle the issue provided it approaches his grievances with an open mind and addresses the critical question of why jawans like Yadav are forced to cross the discipline lakshman rekha.