The Border Security Force on Wednesday came out with fresh guidelines for maintaining high quality of food for its personnel along the border as the Union home ministry directed it to file a complete report on allegations of substandard food made by a soldier posted along the Line of Control.
BSF Director General K K Sharma on Wednesday met Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and submitted a second interim report on the allegations made by Tej Bahadur Yadav on a video that was uploaded on social networking sites.
The BSF chief avoided queries from waiting media after his meeting but the paramilitary force came out with a statement in the evening announcing six measures for providing quality food for its jawans posted along the border.
‘Issues related to diet of jawans, issues of ration purchase procedures and pilferages thereof are the issues of prime concern for any organisation. The BSF has taken a holistic view of the situation and follow-up process has been swung into action (sic),’ the statement said and listed audit of prevalent system by team of senior commanding officers as one of the measures.
Among other steps taken by the BSF are chalking out shortcomings of the present process, suggesting procedural and systematic improvements, vigilance for double checks, enhancing formal and informal interactions with jawans and introduction of systemic innovations to ensure cashless transactions in all messes.
In its second interim report, BSF stated that the daal shown in the jawan’s video was uncanned from tinned food ration and the parantha was cooked in the unit mess as per procedures followed at high-altitude locations.
Sharma conveyed to Mehrishi that the western front commander (Additional DG) of the force along with a dietitian has been rushed to the border post in the state where the jawan was posted for a detailed inquiry.
After the issue went viral on social media, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said the government has sent ‘experts and dietitians to each and every post of the border to ensure that the food quality of the jawans must be as per the norms’.
Officials said the report has mentioned that the daal (lentils) shown in the video by Yadav was uncanned straight from the tinned food ration supply sent to the border post in Rajouri and hence was bland and devoid of spices and jeera, as alleged by Yadav.
The report also mentioned that apart from the regular lunch/dinner comprising daal and roti, the unit mess also prepared fish curry on some occasions, something that is also visible in the videos posted by Yadav.
A final report in this regard is expected to be submitted by the BSF tomorrow after the team of senior officers sent to the spot also finds out the actual "cooking norms, style and distribution" of food to the troops in these areas.
The officials said while the rations at the said post on the LoC is provided by the army, it is cooked by BSF personnel tasked for these jobs.
The report, while has mentioned that jawans were not given only one parantha as claimed by Yadav, it is unclear as to how they were burnt.
‘The probe will find out if the paranthas were ill-cooked and burnt by the cooks or otherwise. There could be a possibility of them being extra-hauled over coal,’ it said.
It also mentions the list of authorised food items for troops deployed at high-altitude and difficult terrain areas of the border and the actual amount of stores available, along with the calorie chart, in the said mess and others beginning January 1.
The BSF added that it ‘welcomes all inputs for improvement’ in this regard even as it will be conducting an ‘audit of prevalent system by a team of senior commanding officers’.
Meanwhile, the wife and son of the BSF jawan, who has sought voluntary retirement from the force, on Wednesday came out in his defence saying he was just bringing out the truth.
“What he did is not wrong... He showed the truth... He has just made a demand for good food and roti. To say that he has a mental problem is wrong. If this was true, why was he sent to the border and was put in the line of duty?
“Why was he not sent for treatment?” Yadav’s wife asked.
His son added ‘it was not wrong’ to demand good food for himself and the troops posted on the borders.
“How would we otherwise know what is happening there (in the forward areas) and what is happening with them (troops)? We just want a fair probe and justice,” the school-going boy said.
The jawan hails from Mahendragarh district of Haryana and had joined the force in 1996.
Yadav who was deployed along the LoC in the Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir and has now been shifted to a nearby battalion pending the Court of Inquiry.