Jailed For Exposing Army’s Sahayak System, Jawan Returns Home After 6 months

The Logical Indian Crew Madhya Pradesh

June 18th, 2018 / 7:58 PM

Image Credit: Hindustan Times

Retired Lance Naik Yagya Pratap Singh (36) who was court-martialled and jailed for six months for exposing the hugely prevalent sahayak system in the army, has been released. He is back in his village in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh. He shot a video of the menial tasks a sahayak was supposed to do. The video went viral.

“My fight against the sahayak system in the army will continue. It is a colonial legacy, which even Great Britain has discarded. I am also demanding action against those officers who force sahayaks to do menial tasks like polishing boots, walking their dogs, etc, which my video exposed. It is against the rules. I have all the necessary documents which I gathered under RTI, ” Singh said, reported Hindustan Times.

He said that he had been raising the issue of misusing Sahayaks with his seniors but he was ignored. In August 2016, he wrote to the Prime Minister and President, but his seniors found out and started punishing him. When he was asked by his family that why was he fighting the Sahayak system, he sent them the video to show the humiliation they face. After watching the video, his family uploaded it on a social media platform. That infuriated his seniors.

“Authorities initiated court-martial proceedings. The officers then tried to declare me mentally unstable and sent me to a mental asylum in Bareilly, but their strategy failed and I got a fitness certificate after spending nine days there.”

He was kept under observation due to constant mental pressure and finally, he retired on November 2017. However, the court-martial proceedings continued and he was found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail which ended on June 8.

Singh was court-martialled and dismissed from service under section 63 (violating good order and military discipline) and 41(2) (disobeying a lawful command given by superiors) of the Army Act on the basis of three charges namely communicating with media, uploading pictures of himself along with other army officials while they are in uniform and also disclosing the ranks of the said officials.  

Singh says that he cannot take the humiliation of returning to the village after being court-martialled. He says that it was not him who spoke to media or make the video viral. His family after seeing the video posted it on the internet to reveal the humiliation juniors have to face due to the prevalence of the Sahayak system.  

“…Sometimes I feel that it would have been better had I become a martyr,” he added.

Sahayak System in army

The term Sahayak means ‘buddy’ related to the ‘buddy system’ which in army parlance means pairing two soldiers during operations and peacetime postings. This system ensures that the two take care of each other during the war and in peace. It is a colonial system where combat soldiers were treated as orderlies or Sahayaks to maintain the uniforms of the officers, polish their boots. However, there have been several complaints of misuse of this system.

Even though reports of blatant misuse of Sahayak system has come out, many are for the system. They are of the opinion that there are some special needs of defense, army, and paramilitary forces. Besides this, soldiers require a lot of other personnel – waiters, cooks, maids, cleaners, and sweepers. Clearly, these jobs are of civilian nature, but for logistical and security reasons, recruits cannot be hired from the civilian base on a contractual or temporary basis.

Though Sahayak is not a listed trade in the services, these young combatants are given tasks which they have to perform dutifully out of fear that their refusal would prevent being assigned combat duties in future. The added problem is that once the Sahayak is assigned to an officer, he is loaded with domestic chores and the hierarchy and the power structure of army do not allow him to complain.

Last year, an Army Jawan, Roy Mathew, who had featured in a sting operation by a news website was found dead under mysterious conditions in an abandoned barrack (accommodation provided to soldiers) in Deolali Cantonment, Maharashtra. The sting operation featured soldiers walking dogs of officers and taking their children to the school.


Written by : Poorbita Bagchi

Edited by : Abhinav Joshi

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