Discouraging soldiers from venting their grievances on official platforms and not air them on social media, Gen Bipin Rawat has warned the guilty of punishment.
Bipin Rawat told soldiers on Army Day that they should contact him “directly” if they were unsatisfied with the internal redressal system.
“Proper channels are in place for jawans to put across their grievances…if they aren’t satisfied with the action taken, they can contact me directly,” Gen Rawat said.
“A few of our friends have taken to social media to speak about their complaints. This affects the soldiers deployed at the borders… You can be held guilty of doing a crime for what you have done and invite punishment,” he warned.
Gen Rawat first talked about the grievances issue two days ago, after a jawan, Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh posted a video on social media criticising the misuse of soldiers as ‘sahayaks’ or ‘buddy’ also called ‘batman’.
Today, the Army chief said the use of social media to highlight an issue could have a deleterious effect on “brave soldiers guarding India’s borders.”
The Army officers basically get ‘sahayaks’ for the upkeep of their uniforms and weapons, as well as to act as their radio operators and “buddies” during combat operations. But parliamentary committees and other critics have slammed the ‘sahayak’ system as a vestige of the colonial era. They say officers blatantly misuse their ‘sahayaks’, getting them to do household work, walk the dogs and take kids to school.
But using social media to air grievances isn’t ideal, Gen Rawat said. The Army already has an “excellent” grievances redressal system that will now be supplemented by the suggestions-cum-grievances boxes.
He further added, “We have the capacity to tackle cyber-attacks, yet, we have to be careful against the enemy elements on social media, and also ask our families to be alert about it.”
The Army chief said anyone, 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.
Gen Rawat had written an application to the PM in which he said that soldiers, who act as sahayaks, should not be made to polish shoes of officers.
Last week, Gen Rawat said the army, on its part, had already asked the government to examine whether “non-combatants” should replace soldiers as ‘sahayaks’ in peace-time locations while pressing for the system to continue in the field and forward areas.