Govt sitting on army proposal to replace sahayaks

Govt sitting on army proposal to replace sahayaks

Soldiers taking to social media to air their grievances

Govt sitting on army proposal to replace sahayaks
For over six months, the defence ministry has been sitting on an army proposal to replace the sahayaks (orderlies) in close to 170 peace stations. Many soldiers are taking to social media to air their grievances. The proposition was first made to the defence ministry in May 2016. Subsequently, the ministry sought clarification from the army headquarters, which in turn responded to the queries in September 2016. Since then, the ministry has been silent.

In the last six months, several soldiers have used the social media to let out their frustration for doing this odd job, leading army chief General Bipin Rawat to create a new grievance redressal system. The ministry also said in Parliament that soldiers are not to be used as sahayaks for menial jobs. This is the second proposal from the army to replace the sahayaks with non-combatants.

The previous proposal was rejected by the defence ministry because it involved an additional expenditure of Rs 178.2 crore on account of pay and allowances of these non-combatants, sources told DH. The move to replace the sahayak as a batman in the officer’s house began way back in March 2012 when the Parliamentary Standing Committee had presented a reports on the increasing psychological stress within the armed forces. The Indian Army Training Command, Shimla, had later looked into the problem.

It was also discussed at the Army Commanders Conference before the proposition was forwarded to the defence ministry. But as it involved additional cost, the defence ministry had turned down the idea and asked the army to work out another scheme without any additional financial burden. According to the proposal, the sahayaks in the field stations would be replaced by  non-combat enrolled personnel.

They would draw their pay from the internal army fund and would be a part of the unit. But they would not be part of the combat force. The system was already in force in the Indian Air Force. Even the army used to have a similar structure several decades ago, sources said.

“Exhaustive instructions were issued from time to time stressing on the need to ensure that under no circumstances are sahayaks, being combatant soldiers, to be employed on menial tasks, which are not in conformity with the dignity and self respect of a soldier,” Subhash Bhamre, the minister of state for defence said the Parliament last week.

The sahayaks are combatant soldiers and provide support to officers and junior commissioned officers in the army when serving with war establishments.