The Delhi High Court on Wednesday disposed of the habeas corpus plea filed by Border Security Force constable Tej Bahadur Yadav’s wife Sharmila Devi after she told the division bench that she had met her husband. Sharmila Devi earlier said she had no idea where Yadav was, but after meeting him she said was convinced he was safe.
Sharmila Devi told the bench that she met Yadav, whose video on the poor quality of food served to the jawans had gone viral and triggered an inquiry, in Jammu and Kashmir’s Samba district over the weekend. She was allowed to meet him following a direction from the high court on February 10. The Ministry of Home Affairs had assured the Delhi High Court that Yadav was not under arrest, though his family insisted he was.
Advocate Gaurang Kanth, who represented the BSF, informed Justices GS Sistani and Vinod Goel that Yadav has now a new mobile phone and there was “no restriction” on him talking to his family, reported IANS. The force had earlier confiscated Yadav’s phone, which he had used to upload four videos on the poor quality of food served to the jawans. The BSF had claimed that Yadav’s phone was seized as part of the investigations.
Earlier, Yadav’s wife claimed that he had been detained by the BSF. The force, however, denied the claims. Yadav’s brother-in-law Vijay had also expressed his displeasure at the BSF for cancelling Yadav’s plea for voluntary retirement service, which was put on hold during the inquiry. Paramilitary Director General KK Sharma had also assured Sharmila of a fair inquiry into the matter on February 6.
In January, Yadav had shared a series of videos on Facebook, in which he showed the poor quality of food that troops were served along the border, and alleged that they were often forced to sleep on an “empty stomach”. Yadav had also said that senior officers sell the supplies bought for them by the government.
The BSF had initiated an inquiry into the case after the videos went viral, but it highlighted that Yadav had faced disciplinary action for multiple reasons in the past, including “alcohol abuse, use of insubordinate language, habitual absenteeism and acting in a manner prejudicial to an official order”.
The Home Ministry, too, had sought a report on the allegations. The ministry had rejected the BSF’s initial report on Yadav’s allegations and asked the force to submit a new one. The BSF, on its part, had asked its commanders to ensure that constables on duty were not carrying cellphones.