When a jawan from the armed forces sent to defend our border reports of the poor conditions he and his colleagues are ordered to work under, one must take note. Tej Bahadur Yadav, a jawan with the Border Security Force (BSF), detailed his plight in four videos posted on social media, specifically pointing out the poor quality of food. He alleged that soldiers are at times forced to sleep on an “empty stomach”. Yadav, who is posted along the Line of Control, however, makes an even more serious allegation. “The Indian government provides everything,” he says. “The stores are full. But all that goes to the market. Where it goes and who sells them should be investigated.” At the end of each video, he says, “Please share this video as widely as possible, so the government sees our plight. Jai Hind.” This message seems to have resonated with a lot of viewers. Each clip was viewed over a million times and shared on thousands of social media accounts. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has taken note of this outrage and sought a report from the Home Secretary.
This outcry has quite naturally prompted the BSF to initiate an inquiry into the matter. Whether the jawan’s assertions are true or not, only a thorough investigation will ascertain. Unfortunately, even before an inquiry into the issue had begun, attempts were made from certain quarters of the BSF to malign Bahadur’s character. “BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav is a habitual offender,” a BSF ‘source’ told a Hindi news channel. “He joined the BSF in 1996 and had received severe punishments four times for different reasons. He was charged with misbehaving with a Commander too. Recently he was sent to LoC for duty from a ‘softer’ place and since then was enraged with his posting and had threatened his superiors of dire consequences.” It should be incumbent on the authorities to stop highlighting his background to save officials, potentially guilty of corruption. Instead, they should ascertain the facts and make the guilty officers pay. In fact, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had last year slammed the Indian Army for not providing adequate fresh fruits and vegetables to its jawans in certain sectors. It also ascertained the very low level of troop satisfaction regarding the quantity, quality, and the taste of ration.