BSF taps food lab after video sting
New Delhi: The BSF has commissioned the Defence Research and Development Organisation to analyse the quality and quantity of food served to its personnel, prodded by a parliamentary panel after a jawan uploaded a video showing watery dal and burnt chapattis served to him.
"These (DRDO) experts are also talking to the personnel who prepare the food, run the unit mess and those who consume it," BSF director-general K.K. Sharma said.
"While a final report is awaited, we have been made to understand that the quality and quantity of our food for jawans and officers have been found to be more than satisfactory as part of the study."
Sharma said the paramilitary force had asked the DRDO's Defence Food Research Laboratory in Mysore, Karnataka, which is conducting the assessment, to suggest ways of improving any possible shortcomings.
A BSF jawan, Tej Bahadur Yadav, had in January last year posted a video on Facebook showing a meal box containing a watery dal, which he claimed had only turmeric and salt, and a burnt chapatti.
Sharma said an internal inquiry by the border force at the time had found that the quality and quantity of food had never been an issue among the personnel.
Later, a parliamentary panel noted an "adverse report on social media" about the quality of food served to BSF personnel and said that "providing good quality food to CAPFs (Central Armed Police Forces) personnel is not only necessary to keep them healthy and fit but also for boosting their morale".
It recommended that "a mechanism be put in place for testing food items being supplied to CAPFs at the source of supply itself, whereby it is tested and certified in respect of nutritional values (and) hygiene and labelled as fit for consumption".
Sharma said three supervisory officers from Yadav's unit - a deputy inspector-general, a commandant and a company commander (assistant commandant) - were shifted after the food controversy on the ground of "failure of command".
"This action was not taken because the food was bad" but because the officers had been unaware that a constable was facing problems and complaining about something, correctly or not, he said.
"So, it is the failure of the supervisory officers in having a proper connect with the subordinates. One must know what is happening," Sharma said.
He said the area along the Line of Control where Yadav was posted was under the operational command of the army, which supplies the food at these high-altitude locations, which "is largely tinned food".
Sharma said Yadav had been sacked in April last year and chargesheeted for indiscipline and uploading a video in violation of rules.
Such conduct "cannot be tolerated" in a security force and this action was not taken against him for complaining about the quality of food, he said.
Sharma added that the BSF had taken a policy decision not to ban the use of smart phones and the social media.
"Why should I punish 2.5 lakh people just because of the mistake of one man? If they want to enhance their knowledge and keep in touch with their family by using the Internet, then why should I stop them?" Sharma said.
"We have just told our personnel that the social media and the Internet have to be used sensibly and anything that they receive on the social media should not be believed without verifying its authenticity."