The Union home ministry has in a report to the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday said it has found no substance in a complaint by Border Security Force jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav that poor quality rations were given to security personnel posted along the border, asserting ‘there was no widespread discontent’ in constabulary over food.
In the report, the home ministry conveyed to the PMO that there was no shortage of rations at any post in paramilitary forces and quality check is being conducted regularly.
A video by Yadav complaining about the quality of food had gone viral, triggered a flurry of reactions with the PMO also seeking a detailed factual report on the incident.
The PMO has been told that ‘there is no widespread discontent in constabulary over food in any paramilitary force’, official sources said.
The PMO has been told that the BSF has maintained that there was no shortage of rations at any post and security personnel deployed along the border never complained about food.
The border guarding force also came out with fresh guidelines for maintaining high quality of food for its personnel.
The Border Security Force has launched a special telephone-based helpline in New Delhi for its personnel to register their grievances in an ‘anonymous’ fashion, till January 31.
Officials said BSF Director General K K Sharma on Thursday held a satellite-based ‘sainik sammelan’ (troops conference) with all his field formations in the country from in New Delhi where he asked the jawans to let him know their grievances in an absolutely secret manner.
The DG, they said, made a specific point and publicised two telephone numbers placed at the force headquarters in New Delhi saying the jawans and officers can register any complaint on these links and their name, rank and designations will not be sought while making these calls.
Sharma, they said, told them that this helpline will function till January 31 and post that he will ensure action in all the genuine complaints.
"While anonymous complaints are not encouraged or accepted anymore in government organisations, the DG gave a one-time window for such an arrangement in order to ensure that all genuine complaints are registered fearlessly by the troops. Action will be taken once the complaints are compiled," they said.
The numbers are not being publicised as it may be misused and it has been circulated during the satellite-based ‘sainik sammelan’, they said.
Officials added that the BSF DG also explained to his men and women about the multiple forums and avenues available to them for grievance redressal.
Sharma also informed the personnel that a special vigilance team has been constituted in the force headed by an inspector general rank officer and this unit would be conducting surprise checks and raids at field formations and forward locations of the BSF.
The PMO has been conveyed that the home ministry has directed the paramilitary forces to take all complaints of jawans seriously and corrective steps should be taken to improve their working conditions and food, the sources said.
In a communication to the BSF, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Sashastra Seema Bal, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the National Security Guard and the Assam Rifles, the ministry has asked them to conduct an independent inquiry once a complaint from any jawan is received on any matter and try to resolve it as early as possible.
The seven central paramilitary forces have been asked to inform their personnel about the existing grievance redressal cell and register complaints, if any, without fear, official sources said.
The forces were also asked to ensure that jawans making complaints were not harassed by their superiors.
The paramilitary forces were told to accept complaints through e-letters. Among the seven central paramilitary forces, one has already started receiving the complaints through e-letter, while the other six have been told to follow suit, sources said.
Yadav, wearing camouflage uniform and carrying a rifle in the video, claimed that while government procures essentials for them, the higher-ups and officers ‘sell it off’ in an ‘illegal’ manner in the market and the personnel have to suffer.
He also posted other videos in which he claimed that the quality of food served was not good.
Meanwhile, the Delhi high court on Friday fixed January 16 for hearing a plea seeking a status report from the MHA following on Yadav's complaint.
A bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini fixed the matter for January 16 as it did not assemble.
The plea was filed by Puran Chand Arya, a former central government employee.
The public interest litigation sought direction to the MHA to submit a status report with respect to all paramilitary forces in India over allegations of the BSF jawan in his video, which went viral on social media.
Citing the fundamental Right to Equality (Article 14) and Life (Article 21), the PIL filed through advocate Abhishek Kumar Choudhary highlights the allegations about insufficient and bad quality of food provided to jawans.
It seeks action on the incident so that the morale of the force is not affected and also asks for clarity on ration procurement, food preparation and servings to various categories of officers.
The PIL has sought direction to depute higher officers to supervise cooking of proper healthy food and its distribution.