Distress deepens in armed forces as Government looks the other way

As deepening distress among jawans and junior officers in the armed forces comes into focus, BSJ jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav questions the Prime Minister on his desire to wipe out corruption

Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Ashutosh Sharma

The mysterious death of an army jawan, Roy Mathew—who criticised the sahayak (orderly) system in a recent ‘sting operation’ by a news website, coupled with the allegations of mental harassment by BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav in yet another video, besides alleged suicides by an army havildar and a BSF jawan in Jammu and Kashmir last month, has brought into focus deepening distress among jawans and junior officers in the armed forces.

In spite of Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s claims that a new grievance redress mechanism has been set up for troops to voice their concerns, followed by a circular asking officers to ensure dignity of serving soldiers, Roy criticised sahayak or buddy system in armed forces in the video—which along with the report has been removed from the website.

After the report was published online, Mathew reportedly went missing on February 25 and was eventually declared absent without leave (AWOL) by the army.

The Army claimed on Friday that the alleged suicide could have been prompted by the feeling of “guilt for letting down his superiors or conveying false impression to an unknown individual.”

According to the Army's official statement, “initial investigations revealed it may be a result of the series of events which were triggered by media personnel managing to videograph the deceased by asking leading questions on his duties as a buddy without his knowledge.”

The decomposed body of 33-year-old Lance Naik Roy Mathew, attached to the Nasik Regiment of the Indian Army, was found hanging from the ceiling of a room in an abandoned barrack in Deolali Cantonment in Maharashtra on Thursday.

Seeking a probe into his “mysterious death”, his family claimed that “in his last phone call home, Roy had expressed fear for his life.” Mathew, according to a report by The Times of India, was attached for buddy duties—a British era practice—with a Colonel rank officer posted as an additional officer at the Artillery Centre in Deolali. He felt tortured and harassed after appearing in the video, the report added, quoting police sources.


But the deepening distress of jawans—who shared their grievances online in recent months—seems to have failed to move the government.

BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav—who is in the news for uploading videos of sub-standard food served at border posts—in another recent video has questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “desire to wipe corruption from the country.”

“Respected Prime Minister has promised to end corruption in this country. I believed him and tried to highlight corruption in my department and now I am being mentally tortured,” he lamented in the recent video before adding, “I appeal to my country to ask Prime Minister why a jawan is being persecuted for exposing corruption. Why my VRS (voluntary retirement from service) has been put on hold. I request 125 crore residents of this country to seek answers from the Prime Minister.”

Watch the video below:

In the same video, he refuted the allegations of 500 Facebook friends from Pakistan. “My phone was confiscated on January 10. I’ve come to know about allegations of friends from Pakistan. I request you to not believe false rumours,” he further maintained.

Meanwhile, the family members of Havildar Kishen Singh Rathore of 24 Grenadiers—who reportedly died of a gunshot in the Maheshwar cantonment area of Samba district in Jammu and Kashmir on February 16 morning have sought a probe into his death.

“We have given a written representation to the Defence Minister and have sought a high level probe into his death,” Vikram Singh Rathore a family member and resident of Chapara village in Nagore district of Rajasthan told National Herald.

“My father has been murdered and his death has falsely been projected as suicide. He has given all the details how he was being harassed in a letter—which he wrote and posted online before his killing,” stated Nikita Kawar and Neha Kawar in a letter addressed to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. “There are so many instances wherein soldiers have posted videos online highlighting corruption by senior officers,” they wrote in the letter, accusing a company commander, a junior officer and a soldier of killing their father.

In another incident, a BSF constable Pramodh Kumar allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with service rifle in Mendhar sector of border district Poonch on February 26.

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Published: 04 Mar 2017, 10:36 AM