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After Amarinder, Rijiju Backs Army Office in 'Human Shield' Controversy

Speaking to CNN-News18, Rijiju said Amarinder’s demand for a medal for Major Gogoi was “encouraging”. "Forces have human rights too," Rijiju said.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:May 21, 2017, 12:14 PM IST
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After Amarinder, Rijiju Backs Army Office in 'Human Shield' Controversy
Speaking at CNN-News18's town hall where paramilitary personnel were also present, Rijiju said the government was committed “to do everything that is required to help our forces”.

New Delhi: After Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju has defended an army officer who reportedly used a Kashmiri man as a “human shield” against stone-pelters during the recent bypoll-related violence in the Valley.

Speaking to CNN-News18, Rijiju said Amarinder’s demand for a medal for Major Gogoi was “encouraging”. "Forces have human rights too," Rijiju said.

“If our soldiers are doing something to protect themselves, how can you denounce that? You cannot. After all, forces are also human beings. They also need to protect their lives…. Indian forces are very responsible. We believe in human rights. We honour human rights. But at the same, we carry the right to protect ourselves,” Rijiju said.

Speaking at CNN-News18's town hall where paramilitary personnel were also present, Rijiju said the government was committed “to do everything that is required to help our forces”.

He was responding to CRPF Commandant Harshvardhan who shared his experience of being posted in Naxal-affected area of Abujmarh in Chhattisgarh.

“'After a Naxal attack, one of our boys was sinking. We kept him alive just by giving him false hope that the rescue helicopter was reaching in a few minutes. The chopper came after two hours. Even if only facilities like immediate rescue helicopters are provided, the forces will be much more motivated," Harshvardhan said.

Rijiju assured that after a review meeting held recently with chief ministers of Naxal-affected states, a decision was taken to upgrade and procure helicopters.

He, however, added that while the government was committed to its forces, it would not tolerate “acts of indiscipline”, a reference to a video by BSF jawan Tej Bahadur who alleged that jawans were being served bad quality food. The video went viral and Bahadur was eventually dismissed from service.

"We did a full inquiry on his allegations. I called up the DG of Border Security Force after the video went viral. But the enquiry found no merit in his allegations. Yes, because of bad weather some items couldn't reach, but that happens in areas like the Line of Control. There is a mechanism to complain. Senior officers visit posts and ask about facilities. I myself ask if food and other facilities are okay when I visit the posts. You can't breach procedure and discipline in the force,” Rijiju said.

In a free-wheeling discussion, the minister also took questions from paramilitary personnel on disparity in pension, benefits and risk allowance to Army and paramilitary forces. He was asked if it was fair for BSF martyr Prem Sagar to get less compensation than Army martyr Paramjeet Singh — both were killed and beheaded by the Pakistan army in Krishna Ghati sector of J&K on May 1. Rijiju responded by asking them to not “compare”.

"The service conditions of the two forces are different. The length of service is different. We are doing all that is required to adequately compensate our paramilitary. When I went to pay my respects to martyr Prem Sagar at the Delhi airport, I enquired about the compensation too. We are aware of the sentiments, but don't compare is what I request,” the minister said.

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| Edited by: Swati Sharma
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