Mudda calls for immediate probe
A video showing poor quality food being served at the camp went viral on Monday night after BSF jawan Tej Bahadur posted the same from the base camp at Poonch. The video stated that only one parantha was being served with chai for breakfast and the dal (cooked lentils) looked rather like a mixture of turmeric and water and meager amount of dal. He also alleged that the government sent sufficient and superior quality food items but the higher officials sold them and reaped the profits from it. This video made Home Minister Rajnath Singh reply on social media asking the respective authorities to probe into the matter.
Tuesday’s edition of Mudda, APN’s daily current affairs show, flagged the issue. Moderated by Himanshu Pandey, the participants were retired Lt General A K Bakshi, BSF Tej Bahadur, retired Col V N Thapar, senior advocate of Supreme Court Pradip Rai, Retired P K Misra, Congress spokesperson Dr. Hilal Naqvi, former BSF Director General Ajai Raj Sharma and APN consulting editor Govind Pant Raju.
Col. Thapar discarded all such claims and said BSF receives superior quality food. “By and large they are happy with the ration. I have eaten that same food and I understand that to generalize the issue will not be right. The senior officers’ first duty is to see the welfare of the jawans. The allegations that senior officials sell the ration and reap the benefits have no grounds at all. There are numerous checks and balances and such corruption is impossible. But since such claims have been raised, it must be investigated. Everything, from the place, conditions in which the food was prepared, opinions of the fellow jawans, should be probed. Sometimes extreme conditions compel them to prepare food in uncommon ways, like once we had to prepare our tea in helmets at high altitude. Hence these must be kept in mind while probing.”
A K Bakshi brought forth the cases that were registered against the man in the video Tej Bahadur. “I have served as the battalion commander at Poonch. It is difficult to send enough food at high altitude. It could be that the food served was from the winter stocks. They mostly get tinned foods. One must note here that this guy was at the base. One must know why he was posted at the base and not at the camp at high altitude. He is an old indiscipline case. He faced disciplinary actions against him for alcohol abuse, beating up a senior officer and absenteeism. When he hit the officer, he was court marshaled and it was decide to terminate his duty. But when he pleaded in court, he was given his chance. Now he has taken voluntary retirement and this was his last duty.” Bakshi noted one must remember here that these inquiries take place routinely there. “There is a redress mechanism within the BSF and one must not assume that it is because of these videos that inquiries take place.”
Pradip Rai agreed that sides cannot be taken at this point. The matter should be thoroughly investigated first. But he also raised questions on the facilities offered to the BSF. He said: “The real question is, do the jawans get sufficient and good quality food? There are marked differences between the facilities given to the BSF and the army. I have seen it myself that the mess facilities at the army is far superior than that at the army.” He further said that though corruption is less in the army, it is still present and hence the matter should be probed.
Hilal Naqvi supported his views and added: “I cannot say that for sure who is telling the truth and who is lying. Investigation should be there. I also want to raise the question if he was such an undisciplined case then why post him in such a sensitive location. Give him voluntary retirement and end his term.”
Govind Pant Raju, however, reminded that news of such food irregularities have come forward earlier too. He commented: “Those posted in severe conditions They are always prepared mentally to face that. I think this can be true but the way it came forward it is against military ethics and rules. I think that the food is of superior quality and enough. The food given at army canteens and that at BSF should not be compared as the jawans know what they are applying for and what facilities they will get. They are always prepared for it. Also, now questions about the usage of mobile phones at such sensitive locations will be raised.”
Former BSF DG, Ajai Raj Sharma reiterated the same thought that it should be investigated and said: “The claims that senior officers sell the ration illegally are all lies. I have retired 12 years ago but I can still vouch for the superior quality food served there.”
Retired BSF additional director general P K Mishra, too, said that the food the jawans get at high altitudes is the same as the army gets.
Compiled by Usha Rani Das