Dear Prime Minister Modi

Something seems to be really wrong with the way the lower-rung of our Border Security Force (BSF) jawans are being treated by their superiors. Since the start of 2017, at least two videos have surfaced online, both showing jawans from India’s top border force complaining against working conditions. The primary concerns are mistreatment from senior officers and inferior quality food. If any of these accusations are found to be true, it will be seen as a blot on our patriotism. After all, what kind of a country wouldn’t treat its soldiers well?

Sir, both the issues raised seem to be long-standing, and your Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led administration can’t be alone blamed for these. In fact, your government has been in just for more than two years and it was Congress-led governments who were in power for most part of India’s post-independent history. While the blame for this systemic rot and snobbery that’s apparently taken root in the BSF lies with Congress, the way you are allegedly going about solving our jawan’s problems after they were highlighted raises questions about your commitment to the welfare of our armed personnel, who as you may know form the bedrock of patriotism.

What’s hardest to swallow is the allegation that the complaining jawan ended up being harassed by his seniors for raising his concerns to you. Jawan Sindhav Jogidas from the BSF, whose video surfaced this week, has claimed that he wrote to your office with his grievances back in Jan 2016. Jogidas said that in the wake of writing to you, disciplinary action was initiated against him and there was even an enquiry instituted. Jogidas claims he is harassed to this day.

You can’t take Jogidas’ grievance lightly. This is what he reportedly said, “Yaha ke kuchh officers ne apne jawano ko apna ghulam samajh ke rakha hai. Jawano ko sab kuchh majboori me karna padta hai aur jo mooh kholta hai, mara jaata hai kyuki sena ka samvidhan bahut hi tough hai (Some of the officers treat their subordinates as if they are slaves. The jawans have to do everything as a compulsion and the one who speaks up gets killed. This is because Army ‘constitution’ is very strict).”

(Source: Twitter/ CNN News18)

Unfortunately, Jawan Jogidas is not the first BSF jawan to complain about the working conditions in the 2.5 lakh-strong force. Tej Bahadur Yadav, a BSF jawan posted in Jammu and Kashmir at the India-Pakistan border, had in January raised concerns about the quality of food that was being served to our troops. He had also blamed his seniors, albeit for a different reason. Jawan Yadav had alleged that food that was being sent by the government was sold off on the black market by BSF seniors. It is an encouraging sign that Jawan Yadav’s case is being investigated after the home ministry stepped in, but he has accused his seniors for stitching him up as payback. Hope your government is looking into that too!

BSF jawan

BSF Jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav allegedly faced severe backlash from within the BSF for raising his concerns in public (Facebook image).

Sir, you are a man who is being held up as an example of a patriotic leader. You election rallies begin with chants of “Bharat mata ki jai (Hail Mother India).” But if Jawan Jogidas’ allegations are true, we Indians (at least some of us) will surely come to assume that your display of patriotism in public is all but eyewash.