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14 Jan 2017

Enough: Govt on video wail - Uploading restrictions on jawans

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, TT, New Delhi, Jan. 13: The Union home ministry today restricted the use of social media by paramilitary personnel after this week's back-to-back video exposures by jawans of poor work and living conditions in the paramilitary forces.
Personnel have been banned from uploading personal photos or videos on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or YouTube without permission from the directors-general of their forces.
The guidelines, sent to the directors-general of the seven central paramilitary forces, also reiterate the service rules provision that bans personnel from airing their views on official matters in public.
"Our government is committed to addressing the problems faced by our soldiers. The guidelines have been issued to ensure there is no breach of discipline in the uniformed forces," junior home minister Kiren Rijiju said.
He added that more and more jawans and officers had obtained smart phones over the years and most were active on the social media.
A BSF jawan had uploaded videos on social media sites on Monday alleging the troops were served poor quality food and often went to bed on an empty stomach. He had accused higher-ups of selling off the food the government supplied for the jawans.
A CRPF constable later uploaded videos citing the disparity in pay, pension and food between the army and the paramilitary.
"These two incidents acted as an eye opener. Sharing videos and pictures without permission will now invite action under the service rules," a ministry official said.
An Intelligence Bureau official sought to give a wider context to the ban. He cited a report from last November that said troops were using their mobiles to click pictures of ongoing ambushes and operations that found their way to the social media.
"It's become a challenge for the government. The social media curbs will help foster the desired discipline," he said.
The guidelines said the respective director-general would clear the release of pictures, videos, text and other information on "operations and other service matters" on the social media, either via the official handles of these forces or directly.
No ban has been imposed on jawans posting personal messages, as opposed to pictures, on the social media.
The guidelines ask the personnel to send any complaints to the forces' grievance redress cells, preferably in the form of e-letters, and promises quick probe and resolution. They ask officers to ensure the jawans face no problems in their daily lives.
Delhi High Court today fixed January 16 for the hearing of a public interest plea seeking a report from the home ministry on the corruption allegations from the BSF jawan.
A ministry source said that over 75 per cent of the 9 lakh paramilitary personnel now had access to smart phones.

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