Prez Bodyguards Only for Rajput, Jats and Sikhs: Army

New Delhi
Prez Bodyguards Only for Rajput, Jats and Sikhs: Army

The Army has admitted in the Supreme Court that recruitment to President's Bodyguard (PBG) is open only to Hindu Rajputs, Hindu Jats and Jat Sikhs, saying that it is done purely on "functional requirement" and there is no caste and religion bias in it.

In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Army refuted the allegation that any of the recruitment is done on the basis of caste and religion, saying that ceremonial duties in the Rashtrapati Bhawan demand common height, built and appearance.

"It is stated that the example of PBG being open to only three classes cited by the petitioner (who alleged biasness on part of Army) once again proves the point that Force structuring/composition is purely based on functional requirement," the affidavit said.

"PBG is a small unit of approximately 150 troops which is placed under the President's Secretariat. Unlike what its name suggests, it is purely a ceremonial unit tasked to perform ceremonies as per the protocol at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The ceremonial duties demand common height, built, appearance and dress for reason of pomp and projection which are important military attributes while performing such duties," it said.

PBG was raised in 1773 at Benares by the then Governor, Warren Hastings. Since being first christened as 'The Guard of Moguls' in 1773, the Regiment has had various titles viz. 'The Governor General's Bodyguard (GGBG)' in 1784, 'The Viceroy's Bodyguard' in 1858, the '44th Divisional Reconnaissance Squadron GGBG' in 1944, before getting back it's old title 'The Governor General's Bodyguard' in 1947. With India becoming a Republic on 26 January 1950, the Regiment came to be known as - "The President's Bodyguard".

The response was filed in compliance with the apex court order directing it to respond on a PIL filed by one I S Yadav, a doctor hailing from Rewari in Haryana, seeking abolition of Indian Army's recruitment criteria for its soldiers on the grounds of caste, region and religion.

He alleged in the petition that discrimination prevails in recruiting the bodyguards for the President as only three castes namely Hindu Rajputs, Hindu Jats and Jat Sikhs can alone be enrolled.

"That means no other Indian having any physical, educational and mental capability is eligible for recruitment in President’s Bodyguard because he does not belong to Rajput, Jat or Sikh community," the petition said.

The Army, in its reply, said, "The PBG has three troops (platoon sized sub units) and therefore only three classes could be represented. That is not to say that other classes are not associated with the ceremonial duties at the Rashtrapati Bhawan which also has one infantry battalion posted in rotational tenures of two to three years."

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