The Border Security Force (BSF) sacked constable Tej Bahadur Yadav after a three-month long proceeding at a summary court martial held in Jammu and Kashmir's Samba district.
Yadav was dismissed by the Summary Security Force Court (SSFC), a court of inquiry which found that he had damaged the "image of the BSF" when he uploaded a video clip on the "substandard food" on social media, triggering an uproar.
The trooper was facing the inquiry on various charges under provision of BSF Act and rules, including indiscipline. His plea for voluntary retirement was also rejected by the BSF authorities.
In an exclusive interview with India Today's Anand Kumar Patel, here is what the recently sacked BSF soldier said:
- First they had asked me to prepare pension and retirement documents but all of a sudden they changed decision. Now I will not get any post-retirement benefit. It was a pre-meditated trial and I knew they will court martial me.
- I wasn't given a fair trial. I wanted to call colleagues as witnesses but they never allowed me to call them. The entire court martial proceeding was an eyewash.
- I tried to report corruption but no one listened to me. So I wanted to expose corruption from within the system. There are different quality of food items and clothing for the jawans and the officers. Jawans are treated as inferiors.
- The quality of food served to jawans improved by 70 per cent after my video went viral and I got a lot of support from my fellow jawans.
- Earlier also I had picked up a fight with one of the inspectors in my unit. It was over the money meant to feed cows which were caught during smuggling because the inspector was keeping the money for himself.
- I suspected they would kill me but media saved my life. My colleagues warned me not to eat in confinement as I could be poisoned so I went on a hunger strike.
- It is always the jawan who is penalised and the corrupt officers always get away with it. That is the most painful part.
- I want to fight against my sacking and want to work for the betterment of jawans. They should get their dues.
- I want to meet the home minister first and place grievances before him and if given an opportunity I would like to meet the PM as well.
- Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself said fight against corruption, I still have hopes from him.
Tej Bahadur Yadav's wife along with other villagers from Rewari. (Photo: Anand Kumar Patel)
The charges specifically against him were:
- An act pre-judicial to good order and discipline of the force in which he made false allegations on social media regarding the quality of food and did not adhere to the formal grievance redressal mechanism of the force.
- Neglect to obey general orders of the force in which he carried two mobile phones while on operational duty against the SOP and also posted photographs in uniform on social media in contravention of instructions.
He was found guilty of all charges and awarded dismissal from service.
As per the BSF Act and rules, he can now submit a petition or appeal against the punishment to the higher HQ within 3 months.
The SSFC proceedings commenced from 13th April 2017 and concluded on 19th April 2017. During the proceedings, all opportunities were given to the individual for his defence.
WHAT DID TEJ BAHADUR ALLEGE?
On January 9 this year, the BSF constable had uploaded the video, complaining about the "poor quality of food" provided to the troopers.
Yadav had further alleged that the senior officials illegally sold off the food supplies meant for the troopers.
Yadav also expressed apprehension that his seniors may take action against him for exposing the condition of soldiers on the border.
Denying the allegation of poor quality food, the force said it was "making all efforts to ensure a transparent and effective measure for the procurement as well as distribution of healthy diet to all its personnel".