Dear PM Modi, clean the rot in Army: A BSF jawan sympathiser

This national disaster cannot be masked by deleting Tej Bahadur like an infected file from the BSF computer.

 |  8-minute read |   13-01-2017
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Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing this on behalf of Tej Bahadur, a BSF jawan who has done you proud. He spoke up what appears very strongly to be the truth. Visuals don’t lie, unless tampered with. Tej Bahadur does not appear to have had any chance or means to doctor the tapes.

I am afraid he will be sacrificed, which will be a shame. If and when it happens, it will prove two things: (a) every word that Tej Bahadur said is true and (b) the bandicoots of corruption were allowed to kill him for telling the truth.

Dear Prime Minister, Tej Bahadur stated his faith in you. He made a direct, passionate appeal to you, not to save him, but to have the truth investigated. He did so, because he believes you want to eradicate corruption.

A few more have spoken up. The lid is slowly coming off. Is that a bad thing? Not at all; especially if we still retain the national motto: satyameva jayate! It is high time you considered conferring the Param Veer Chakra on those who dare to tell the truth. It is such a perilous and risky thing, you know!

Dear Prime Minister, cores and crores of us put up with the misery of your noteban because of your professed keenness to fight corruption. We believe that you want to clean up India. Sir, the BSF, Army and the likes are also a part of India. Please clean up the mess there as well. Selective targeting of dirt is dirty.

It proves that certain types of dirt, or dirt in certain quarters, is patronised and valued.

Like Lalit Modi, for example.

Like Vijay Mallya, for example.

Like the big, fat termites who eat up our money via the banks, converting our sweat and blood into NPAs that are written off in tens and thousands of crores. Why are they not called habitual offenders?

A spokesperson of your party revealed recently that in 10 years of UPA rule, Rs 36.5 lakh crore have been loaned to corporates. Why are you not getting after those who reduced all of us to paupers, both the bankers and bandits?

There is a serious aspect to Tej Bahadur's case, which I am sure you are aware of. But let me state it nonetheless.

When the regrettably controversial “surgical strike” issue came up, we were told that it is anti-national to distrust the Army. So, we were all beaten into silence. But, Sir, now we have a problem.

If there are corrupt officers in the Army, which was exposed by Tehelka during NDA-1, various defence-related scams came up, and it is now being reiterated by the victims of corruption, how do we trust what the Army says as Gita truth? Can the corrupt be habitually honest? A credibility crisis stares the nation in the face. 

This is too painful for us to contemplate. As ordinary citizens, we would like our anxieties to be laid to rest. The Army means a lot to us. Please intervene and make truth and justice prevail. 

Since in your scheme of patriotism and nationalism – structured almost entirely on anti-Pakistan sentiments - the Army and paramilitary forces are pivots, fortifying their credibility could be a top priority for you. This makes us hopeful.

The worst you can allow to happen is that the voices of the victims of corruption are silenced and they are punished for telling the truth. Killing the truth, Sir, is not an honest broom to sweep the country of its accumulated garbage of high-level corruption and venality.

Aren't our jawans entitled to the rights and benefits that all citizens are? Tej Bahadur is a whistleblower. Won't he come under the law in this regard?

I admire his desperate courage. He has spoken up, knowing that he may not survive the event. He says so in the video. Is that not true courage? The willingness to put one’s life in certain peril for making the truth prevail; an exercise which the whistleblower himself is sure not to survive unscathed? If only we had a single such noble example in politics or religion!

Predictably, Tej Bahadur was at once stymied and discredited as a “habitual offender”. (True, truth offends.) All right, let us assume that he is. Does that, in any way, prove that what he has alleged is baseless?

If a known criminal rings up a police station and informs that a murder has taken place and that the corpse is lying in a ditch in Noida, should the police dismiss it as a joke? If done so, it will be a case of forensic science and criminal investigation imitating party spokesmen who insist that neither has the right to speak of corruption by the other because one is more corrupt than the other.

The knee-jerk reaction of the BSF officers concerned and their eagerness to paint Tej Bahadur black amounts to a clumsy admission of guilt!

They, the accused, took it upon themselves to conduct an overnight trial and acquit themselves! How easy life is! What about the time old dictum that you cannot be the judge and jury in your own case?

Sir, what these concerned half-wits (corruption corrupts one’s own brain and makes it work only in stupid ways) do not realise is that Tej Bahadur’s courageous speaking up – without the mask of anonymity, wow! - pertains not only to personal discomfort but also to the rot in the system. It is bound to undermine the image and credibility of the forces, which is a matter that concerns not only their skins but also our national security.

This national disaster cannot be masked by deleting Tej Bahadur like an infected file from the BSF computer. The issues he has raised deserve to be thoroughly and transparently investigated. The rot has to be exposed and cleaned up. The corrupt must be weeded out. The man of courage and truth, if that's what Tej Bahadur is, must be honoured as a brave defender of our critical boundaries and promoted. Corruption, not Pakistan, is our cancer.

Only when an impartial inquiry is conducted will we know who the “serial offenders” are.

Sir, the truth is that a “surgical strike” on corruption is yet to begin. The surgical strike on the economy – which hurt every citizen, except the corrupt - does not seem to us any longer as a surgical strike on corruption. Here is a great opportunity for you to prove your credentials as an anti-corruption crusader. That being the case I request the following:

- Please order an impartial inquiry, presided by a sitting Supreme Court judge, covering all aspects of the allegations raised. It is no use handing it over to the armymen, serving or retired!

- The officers involved be identified and put under immediate suspension so that they do not tamper with evidence or influence the inquiry.

- Ensure that Tej Bahadur is not punished and no harm comes to him. A million times more than Amar Singh, Tej Behar deserves “Z” category security! He is a national asset.

- A comprehensive study and reform of the living and servicing conditions of the armed and paramilitary men be initiated, in which context I suggest the following issue be studied scientifically.

Why is the supply and consumption of alcohol promoted in military services? Is it not to promote an unthinking and slavish culture in the Army? I raise this issue especially because an Army jawan has now come out with the damning allegation that soliders are being made to do “menial jobs" for officers.

All of us know that such corruption and human rights abuses are routine in the Army, in the police and in babudom. Repeated instances have come out. (How quickly we have forgotten how the Bhopal jailbreak happened!)

Are our jawans and policemen not Indian citizens? Shouldn’t they be entitled to personal dignity? Keeping them in conditions of near-slavery is worse than keeping them malnourished, if that's the case. Indeed the two are inseparably connected.

How can India emerge from the dark ages and enter the stage of modernity if these feudal practices and conditions are allowed to thrive?

Sir, please ensure that the truth is brought out in the open; for, as that laughably pompous and pretentious rag has it, “the nation (soon it will the Republic) wants to know”.

Honourable Sir, we respect you as a man of your words, as a man of action. You mean what you say; even if they are said, often, for rhetorical effect to the rabble who do not remember what they were promised yesterday, so long as the promise made today gives them a kick.

Sir, please intervene. Intervention alone proves sincerity. Standing by victims of corruption is the authentic anti-corruption stance. Disowning them, pricks the bubbles of postures and pontifications.

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.

Valson Thampu, one of Tej Bahadur’s many sympathisers. 

Also read: BSF jawan's video: Don't shoot the messenger


Valson Thampu Valson Thampu

The writer is former principal of St Stephen's College, Delhi and former member of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions (NCMEI).

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