Army seeks abolition of sahayak system

Army seeks abolition of sahayak system

 The Indian Army has recommended to the government to abolish the age-old and much abused system of having ‘sahayaks’ (batmen) for officers, at least in peace stations, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said on Friday.

Sahayaks are ordinary soldiers doing the work of a manservant in the houses of officers in static posts like the army headquarters in Delhi. They will be replaced by civilian servants.

“In field areas, sahayaks are still required because of the buddy-pair concept in the infantry. We proposed to the government to have buddies only in forward areas,” Gen Rawat said in his annual media interaction ahead of Army Day on January 15.

While the navy and the air force abolished the sahayak system long ago, the army has received flak from parliamentary panels several times for continuing with the “demeaning and humiliating practice of employing jawans (soldiers) as sahayaks”.

The announcement comes in the wake of a video from Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh, posted in 42 infantry brigade. “I had written an application to the prime minister in which I have said that soldiers, who act as sahayaks, should not be made to polish the shoes of officers,” he said.

Lance Naik Singh said when the Prime Minister’s Office wrote back to his brigade asking it to investigate the matter, he was tortured by the brigadier. “The brigadier tortured me to such an extent that I would have taken an extreme step,” he said in the video.

Asked to comment, Gen Rawat said sahayaks should not be forced to do something they do not like doing happily.

The army currently has more than 25,000 sahayaks allocated to serve officers from the rank of a major or colonel. At times, even the junior commissioned officers get sahayaks. “Ours is a very large army wherein individual grievances can’t be ruled out. We have taken cognisance of Singh’s complaints,” said an officer.

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