More reports on: Defence general

Army sets up WhatsApp line for plaints, but questions remain

28 January 2017

In the wake of recent social media posts by defence personnel airing their grouses, the Army has launched a WhatsApp helpline connecting the lower ranking personnel directly with Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat. The number 9643300008 will be available to all personnel having complaints and grievances.

Recently, some defence personnel had taken to social media with complaints about basic amenities and the VIP culture in the armed forces, leading to a major controversy. The personnel had alleged suppression and harassment by top-level officers if they voice their concerns.

The move comes despite an existing system of grievance redressal within the Army. In case a complainant has exhausted all grievance forums and remains dissatisfied, he may contact the Army Chief's office through the new number.

However, there seems no plan or information available as to how unwarranted messages that may flood the WhatsApp site will be filtered. Since it is a common WhatsApp number, it will not be just the 1.3 million-strong Indian Army personnel who can send messages to the number but also anyone in the world, PTI reports. Also, there will be no check on what kind of text, video or link may be sent to the number.

The entire controversy was started after Border Security Force Jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav had shared alleged videos of substandard food and unhygienic means of life the soldiers have to put up with at the border. In the series of videos, Tej Bahadur had said that the authorities do send adequate food but it never reaches the soldiers on the ground.

The allegation was that the food is sold off on the open market for profit and substituted with substandard stuff.

The video was followed by a Central Reserve Police Force and an Army Jawan making complaints about VIP culture in the armed forces.

The jawans continued to post videos on social media even after a stern warning by Gen Rawat. Defying the Army chief's warning, a soldier posted a video singing about the ''pickle on Roti'' they have to eat as others go to five-star hotels in cities.

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