After a cluster of videos of jawans highlighting their poor work conditions went viral this week, inciting public anger, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that complaints or feedback by soldiers should be sent to his office rather than through social media, stressing the importance of problems being handled internally.
General Rawat said, “In a force of over 12 lakhs, there will be grievances. And often the reason for grievances is something else.”
An army jawan posted in Dehradun said that he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, the Defence Minister and others, seeking their intervention, but has been threatened and “tortured” after that.
General Rawat described social media as a “two-sided” weapon which can be used favourably but can also be detrimental.
“I would like to announce that I have issued orders that in every army headquarters, we will have a chief of army staff suggestion-cum-grievance box placed at various places. We will follow suit with similar COAS redressal-cum-suggestion boxes being placed at command headquarters and then subsequently to lower formation,” he said.
Assuring full confidentiality, the Army chief said anyone, irrespective of ranks or service, can use this mechanism to put whatever they wish to write into these letter boxes so that grievances can reach him directly.
General Rawat said the soldiers should write to him with names but he will ensure that the names of the personnel is deleted before any action is taken.
“We would like that people come directly to us rather than resorting to the social media or other means. Let the troops have the confidence in senior leadership of the army that their grievances, genuine of otherwise, will be addressed inright earnest. If dissatisfied, they can use other means,” he said.
The Army Chief’s response came after several videos emerged of Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans complaining about facilities provided to the troops, as well as, in one case, harassment from senior officers.
Referring to a video by Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh in which he alleged harassment by superiors, Rawat said that Singh may not have been happy with the response he received following his complaint.
On Eastern Commander Lt General P Bakshi’s accusation that people within the army were maligning him, Rawat said Bakshi should approach him with formal information.