If Modi won't spare the corrupt, why was BSF jawan Tej Bahadur sacked?

The culture of suppressing voices in the government and forces has cost the nation.

 |  5-minute read |   21-04-2017
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The dismissal of Border Security Force (BSF) constable Tej Bahadur Yadav, who took to social media to complain about the bad food being served to his unit, won't stir the economy. But the constable was only trying to respond to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to speak up against corruption, which is ruining the Indian economy.

His video clips alleged it was bad “dal” that was served to the forces. No one has apparently denied it as yet — this means the meals served to the soldiers were indeed substandard and also that jawans are not treated with the care and concern we owe them.

The nation is taking little effort to make them battle-ready. It also translates to spending thousands of crores at the cost of the deprivation of the soldiers who deserve healthy food. It is their basic right. While the jawan was sacked for speaking out, those who procure and serve the meals have not been meted out any punishment.

bsf-small_0117170251_030517031022.jpg Should not the BSF bosses be meted out the maximum punishment for virtually de-motivating the cadre everywhere? Photo: Facebook

The BSF says that Tej Bahadur Yadav had never approached the grievance redress mechanism. Everybody knows that not only in the forces, but also in government offices, approaching such a mechanism attracts more retribution than solutions.

The dictum is “boss is always right” and “show me the face I shall show you the rule”. Unfortunately for this constable, like thousands of others who are suffering, his face was not in the rulebook!

Is speaking out about a condition that nobody listens to otherwise a crime? The prime minister has been asking everyone — and that means those in the forces too — to report every kind of malpractice. Should doing so in a supposedly “disciplined” force then be considered a crime?

The officers who have sacked the BSF constable have apparently tried to ignore what the prime minister told the nation. They are keen on perpetuating their misrule than adhere to what the political master tells them.

Should it not be considered a move to shield the guilty? Instead, they heaped insult and humiliation on the poor, powerless constable.

Should not the BSF bosses be meted out the maximum punishment for virtually de-motivating the cadre everywhere?

It is a grave issue, and certainly not the first such instance. In 1960s, a large number of people in the forces were found to be suffering from several severe heart conditions.

The jawans had then complained about being served meals cooked in hydrogenated oil (or vanaspati oil). For years, nobody paid attention to their problems, but as more casualties were reported, orders were issued to replace vanaspati oil. The delayed decision cost not only the families of the jawans, but also the nation as the trained soldiers died owing to health problems or retired early.

The forces and government departments resort to gagging such voices. This is a colonial tradition of “maintaining discipline”. It does not check rebellion as the BSF wants would like us to believe.

It creates anger and seething soldiers. And the nation has witnessed many outbreaks at different times, for instance, the sudden firing by jawans killing compatriots and officers, in almost all kinds of defence and paramilitary forces.

When they can’t speak out, they express themselves with the barrel of the gun — that is rebellion, but in most cases, it is the result of repression. Today, the cops may not speak up, but if the prime minister does not intervene to restore the honour, pride and service of the sacked BSF constable, it may lead to an outburst some day.

Citizens like Yadav are the real soldiers in the PM's fight against corruption. It was trillions-worth scams galore in the UPA regime. They went unchecked because the voices of the people at the lower rung were muzzled.

They could be exposed because many of the “non-entities” acted as whistleblowers, including several “anonymous” sources. That forces have many skeletons in their closet is well-known. Cattle-smuggling, for instance, is attributed to an organised mafia often aided by those in uniform. Scams related to procurement of arms, aircraft and other logistics abound. They could be exposed because people within the organisations made discreet revelations.

But today, several such organisations are mortified to speak up against them. Nobody wants to lose her/his job while the corrupt get rewarded with plum postings.

Numerous instances prove that the culture of suppressing voices in governmental and semi-governmental organisations has cost the nation dearly.

Meanwhile, nobody is held accountable for the taxpayers’ money. Many misdemeanours go unreported, despite being in the public domain.

For instance, the UP provident fund scam, MP’s Vyapam, Kerala's Palmolein controversy are still fresh in our memory. They could happen only because the officialdom has mastered the art of muzzling the truth.

The NDA regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought in many changes — but it has to ensure that those in the know speak up. That is what BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav tried to do.

But if they are meted out such inhuman treatment and sacked from service and made to face summary security force court (SSFC) for merely telling the truth, corruption will be swept under the carpet.

Let the citizen be allowed to speak for nation-building in Modi's India. Citizens like to see their PM punishing the guilty, but he must protect and encourage those who dare to speak up against the guilty.

Also read: I can't stand this surgical strike on the Indian soldier anymore

Writer

Shivaji Sarkar Shivaji Sarkar

The writer is a senior journalist and political observer. Currently, he teaches journalism in IIMC, New Delhi.

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