Armed forces

Stung by Jawan’s Video, BSF Issues Quality Guidelines for Food

‘If my husband is mentally unbalanced, as the BSF alleges, why was he sent to the border and not for treatment,’ asks the wife of the jawan who made a video of the poor rations given to troops.

File photo of BSF jawans. Credit: PTI

File photo of BSF jawans. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Left red-faced by the public circulation of a video, the Border Security Force on Wednesday came out with fresh guidelines for maintaining a 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 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.

“BSF has taken a holistic view of the situation and follow-up process has been swung into action (sic),” the statement said, and listed the audit of the prevalent system by a 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, the BSF stated that the ‘daal’ shown in the jawan’s video was uncanned from the 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 dietician 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 dieticians to each and every post of the border to ensure that the food quality of the jawans must be as per the norms”.

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 that 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 mentions that jawans were not given only one ‘parantha’ as claimed by Yadav and that 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.

Meanwhile, the wife and son of the BSF jawan, who has sought voluntary retirement from the force, today 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 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.