Is BSF making a mess of its damage control exercise?

After videos by jawans airing complaints went viral, a jawan saying he belongs to another BSF battalion defends the BSF, on social media, even as MoS (Home) speaks of need to maintain discipline

Photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

Ashutosh Sharma

Two videos surfaced on Thursday defending the food served to jawans in the Border Security Force. Both videos were posted by a freshly created private Twitter handle and show uniformed men claiming to be jawans and an officer in the BSF. The videos left nobody in any doubt that they were putting in a command performance.

In one of the videos, a man claiming to be a long-serving BSF officer laments the attempts in the media and social media to malign the image of the BSF and calls BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav, whose VRS application has been turned down pending an inquiry into his allegations of poor quality food, a blot on the force. He can be heard saying, “I’ve served in BSF for the last 36 years and served in almost all the border areas. Currently, I’m posted near Pakistan border. The broadcast of the video of food on TV is part of a misinformation campaign to malign BSF’s image. Those who are involved in it, they can’t perform their duties...”

In another video, tweeted in two parts, a gun-wielding man in jawan uniform appears to be reading out a statement. He starts by identifying himself as a BSF constable, naming his battalion which he said is posted in Manipur—a serious enough breach of protocol and discipline—and declares that he is hurt by the recent videos posted on social media to bring a bad name to the BSF. “In my 54th Battalion there is no such problem”, the jawan declares, all the time flanked by two silent, impassive jawans without guns.

The jawan goes on to add: “We get high quality meals in our battalion. To ensure that standard of food doesn’t get compromised, a mess committee has been constituted which oversees purchase of provisions of fine quality from the market. We get Rajdhani (brand) flour and India Gate Basmati rice.”

The videos triggered several comments with the hashtag #Namakharam. Many of them were abusive of Tej Bahadur Yadav, mocking at his preoccupation with better quality food. At border posts, the message implied, jawans should have different priorities.

The Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told the media during the day that denying VRS applications during an inquiry was as per rules. He also added that security forces had to maintain discipline.

Ironically, despite the Government on January 13 banning paramilitary personnel on duty from uploading personal photos or videos on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or YouTube etc., these videos by men in uniform defending the BSF have surfaced on social media, and would appear to violate that code. When National Herald contacted BSF headquarters, Manipur, this correspondent was told that “DIG sahib is on leave. His personal assistant (RK Mehra) is not in the office.”

Commenting on the video, Nalin Talwar, an ex-serviceman scoffed, “Is this soldier in uniform doing his duty or making a mockery of his duty ? He is holding his gun and is flanked by two other jawans—while presumably other soldiers shot the video.”

National Herald was not able to independently verify the identity of the BSF jawan or officer and the authenticity of their claims.

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Published: 3 Feb 2017, 8:59 PM