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Give BSF jawans the respect they deserve

Yesterday, this paper ran a report about the Mumbai police, which had called in two Border Security Force (BSF) companies from Gujarat to help with the Ganeshotsav bandobast, especially at the Lalbaugcha Raja, allegedly forcing its guests to live in rather shabby conditions.

The report added that the 200-odd jawans, who are expected to stay alert throughout their long duty hours to ensure the safety of devotees, are having trouble sleeping every night, as the BMC school in Parel, where they have been accommodated, is teeming with mosquitoes.

Rainwater also seeps into the halls where they sleep. An official admitted that jawans were prepared to stay in the worst of conditions whenever required, but when they were called to Mumbai for Ganpati bandobast, they were expecting that proper arrangements would be made for their accommodation.

It is shocking that jawans are made to stay in these conditions when they have come to do an important duty, in what is a challenging time for everybody in the city. The authorities should have hired staying quarters close to Lalbaug. A recce should have been done of the living conditions before the jawans and their seniors were told to stay there.

Surely, those in charge must have known for a while now that the BSF would be here on duty for Ganpati. Arrangements could have been made in advance with basic facilities. The BSF was not looking for luxury. Surely, though, they could have had a clean hall, even if there are no beds, clean mattresses and most of all, no rainwater leakage. The accommodation they are in seems to be a breeding ground for disease.

This kind of treatment demoralises our forces, who then feel there is nobody to care for them. It may also result in a less-than-alert force, as sleep and basic living conditions are compromised. Somebody needs to be answerable and accountable for the shoddy treatment meted out to the BSF. Let there be strong action against this, so that it is not repeated.

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