General Bipin Rawat warns jawans taking to social media for strict punishment

By: | Updated: January 15, 2017 10:16 PM

The Army Chief was addressing the Army Day celebrations here, where he awarded gallantry medals to soldiers who showed extraordinary courage while performing duty.

Gen Bipin Rawat. (PTI)Gen Bipin Rawat. (PTI)

Days after an Indian army jawan took to social networking platform Facebook to post a video critical of the army, newly appointed army chief general Bipin Rawat said “Jawans taking to social media to express their complaints could be punished as it lowers morale of troops guarding frontiers.” Rawat has informed that if army personnel don’t use proper and specified mediums to file their complaints and grievances they shall be liable to be punished.

Addressing the gathering on Army Day earlier today, General Rawat said “Proper channels are in place for jawans to put across their grievances…if they aren’t satisfied with action taken, they can contact me directly.”

“Aapne jo karwai ki hai aap iske liye apradhjanak hain, aur saza ke haqdaar ho sakte hain (You are violating rules by your act and you could be punished for that),” he said, referring to instances of jawans taking to social media to air their grievances. “It (airing of grievances on social media) has (negative) impact on the brave jawans who are serving the country along the border,” he said.

One can be found guilty for any action taken outside these channels and will also be liable for punishment, the General added. In his speech he also talked about the grievances issue on Friday, after a jawan, Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh, posted a video on social media criticising the use of soldiers as ‘sahayaks’or ‘buddy’.

Singh had also written an application to the Prime Minister and has asked that soldiers, who act as sahayaks, should not be made to polish shoes of his senior officers. Singh is with the 42 Infantry Brigade posted in Dehradun. He has accused his senior officers of harassing him and has written to the PM addressing these problems.

Today, the Army chief said the use of social media to highlight an issue could have hurtful effect on those brave soldiers who are guarding India’s borders. As per Indian Army rulebook, senior officers get ‘sahayaks’ for upkeep of their uniforms and weapons, and also work as radio operators and “buddies” during wars and other operations. But parliamentary committees and other critics have criticised the ‘sahayak’ system as a shadow of the colonial era. They also say officers misuse their ‘sahayaks’, and make them do household work, walk the dogs and take kids to school.

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Concluding his speech, General Rawat said that irrespective of rank or service, can use this mechanism to write directly to him. Assuring full confidentiality, he said the name of the soldier concerned will be deleted before any action is taken.

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