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Around the time when a BSF jawan’s video went viral on social media this year exposing the dismal state of affairs in the uniformed forces, a retired lieutenant colonel wrote to Army chief Bipin Rawat, complaining about a more shocking experience that however got no media attention. In early January, the video by Tej Bahadur of 29 battalion showed how jawans are served substandard and insufficient food due to a corrupt system that forces them to sleep on an empty stomach at times. In his January 13 letter to Gen Rawat, Lt Col (Retired) Arun Kumar complained about a gruesome experience he faced while serving the army. He said army denied him food and there has been no action after he complained about this violation of his basic human rights and right to life.
“I didn’t have the courage (to go to the media) and my case proves that the jawan was right (in doing so),” Kumar, 57, tells Outlook, citing the complete apathy to his written complaints. A native of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Kumar had filed numerous complaints against “corrupt and dishonest” officers that only resulted in much torture and harassment to him since 2002.
“I had been put in the psychiatric ward twice. They put me on medicine to make me a psychopath. I have been criminally assaulted, illegally confined, denied medical treatment on numerous occasions by army doctors, denied food and subjected to an illegal general court martial. All this has been done to eliminate me since I did not compromise on honesty,” he claims.
Having served the army for 33 years, Kumar had raised the issue of corruption a dozen times. “Most of my allegations involve financial dishonesty and moral turpitude of senior officers,” he says. “I had filed three statutory complaints—in 2003 and July and August of 2010. None was registered. A mail from the Army HQ later said they won’t take cognizance of my complaint. Letters from the President, some ministers and MPs went unanswered.”
“The Army knows my claims will be proved. So they have neither ordered a probe, nor instituted disciplinary proceedings against me for the allegations,” he adds. “This makes the criminal conspiracy evident.”
Kumar’s family friend, Flt Lt M.P.S. Godara, faced a similar fate after he petitioned the defence minister in July 2016 about torture by his Commanding Officer. “He was later beaten up and assaulted four times by colleagues. It was planned. A court-martial is being orchestrated against him,” Kumar says. Godara is now stationed in Thane. “His parents are government schoolteachers and they are running from pillar to post.” Youngsters join the forces with a lot of motivation, but the “corrupt” system only de-motivates them, he adds.