India’s Army has told its soldiers to stop complaining on social media websites, after some troops last week appeared in videos online saying they had insufficient food and poor facilities.
“You can also be punished for your actions,” Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat told soldiers in a speech at Sunday’s Army Day celebrations in New Delhi.
A man who said he was Tej Bahadur Yadav, a member of India’s elite paramilitary Border Security Force, earlier this month appeared in a series of videos complaining about the quality of food given to him and his colleagues on Facebook.
Mr. Yadav, was with India’s border force at a base camp along the country’s de-facto border with Pakistan in Poonch district in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the BSF’s Inspector General DK Upadhyaya said.
“Sometimes the conditions are so bad that we are forced to sleep on an empty stomach,” Mr. Yadav said in one video, in which he also alleged that corruption was to blame for the scant rations. Mr. Yadav couldn’t be reached for comment.
One of the videos was viewed more than 9 million times on Facebook. A day after it was posted on Jan. 8, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh said an inquiry into the matter had been launched.
The video was followed by other snippets of men who said they were Indian Army soldiers and also listed complaints.
In one video on YouTube, a man who said his name was Ram Bhagat and that he worked as a nursing assistant at a military-run hospital in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, complained about insufficient food and exploitation of soldiers by their seniors.
“Many people are just walking officer’s dogs,” he said in the video. Mr. Bhagat also complained about the lack of transport facilities for soldiers, while he alleged that the families of senior officers were given vehicles even if they had to visit a “beauty parlor.”
In other videos, men who said they were Indian Army soldiers spoke about being “exploited” by senior officers to “polish shoes, walk dogs” and clean officers’ cars.
A spokesman for the Indian Army couldn’t immediately be reached for a comment on the allegations made in the videos.
On Sunday, Mr. Rawat, the chief of army staff said that such testimonies affect the morale of soldiers who are posted along the country’s tense borders and that they should get in touch with him directly.
“I have issued orders that in the army headquarters we will have a chief of army staff suggestions-cum-grievances box placed at various places,” he said in a news conference last week. Similar boxes will also be placed at the Army’s command headquarters and other units, he added.
Mr. Rawat said that the identities of soldiers who make suggestions or air grievances would be protected before action is taken.
“If dissatisfied, they can use other means,” he said.
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